Bruce Wampold

Bruce Edward Wampold (born November 25, 1948, in Olympia, Washington) is widely recognized for his research on psychotherapy process and outcome and his development of research methods and statistics.

Wampold received his B.A. in mathematics from the University of Washington and taught junior and senior high school mathematics and coached wrestling for several years. He returned to school to receive his M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawai’i and his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied under the guidance of Donald R. Atkinson. In addition to Atkinson, Wampold acknowledges being highly influenced by Lawrence J. Hubert, Joel R. Levin, Michael J. Patton, and Ronald C. Serlin. He held faculty appointments at the University of Utah and the University of Oregon, before his current appointment in the Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is presently a full professor and department chair. He has been licensed as a psychologist since 1983, and has been a Diplomate in Counseling Psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology since 2001.

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Wampold’s contextual model of psychotherapy provides a challenging alternative to the dominant paradigm used to explain the efficaciousness of psychotherapy. The prevailing model of psychotherapy—widely known as the medical model—claims the specific techniques advocated by different theories of psychotherapy account for the effectiveness of therapy. Wampold’s investigations demonstrated empirically that the effects of psychotherapy are due to factors that are common to all bona fide psychotherapies, and he proposed a contextual model based on this body of evidence.

Wampold’s contextual model conceptualizes the effective components of psychotherapy as consisting of (a) a confidential therapist-client relationship, (b) a context or environment for the healing, (c) an acceptance of alternative and adaptive explanation(s) of the client’s distress, and (d) procedure(s) consistent with the explanation for reducing or resolving the client’s distress. Research by Wampold and his associates using meta-analytic and hierarchical modeling techniques has demonstrated that these common factors account for much higher percentage of the variance in therapeutic outcomes than specific techniques. The specific techniques advocated on the basis of theory failed to account for a clinically meaningful percentage of the variance in therapeutic outcome. Wampold’s research and theoretical reformulation of the therapeutic process has influenced the thinking of public and private organizations around the world, and of the APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice.


  1. Wampold, B. E. (2001). Contextualizing psychotherapy as a healing practice: Culture, history, and methods. Applied & Preventive Psychology, 10, 69-86.
  2. Wampold, B. E. (2001). The great psychotherapy debate. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  3. Wampold, B. E., Mondin, G. W., Moody, M., Stich, F., Benson, K., & Ahn, H. (1997). A meta-analysis of outcome studies comparing bona fide psychotherapies: Empirically, “all must have prizes.” Psychological Bulletin, 122, 203-215.
  4. Wampold, B. E., & Serlin, R. C. (2000). The consequence of ignoring a nested factor on measures of effect size in analysis of variance. Psychological Methods, 5, 425-133.

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