Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Dodo Bird Verdict...

“Everybody has won and all must have prizes.” -Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Dodo Bird Verdict is a term used when evaluating techniques in psychotherapy. The phrase comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

When several of the characters from Alice in Wonderland get wet, the Dodo bird issues a competition to run around the lake until they’re dry.

Nobody measures how far everyone runs and and nobody notes how long the running lasts. Finally, someone asks the Dodo bird who has won the race. The Dodo ponders this point, and then states that the race is over and that “everybody has won and all must have prizes.”

So, psychology has coined a term called "the dodo bird verdict.” It describes the consequence of the common factors theory. This is the theory that specific techniques that are applied in different types of psychotherapy and much of the positive effect of therapy is actually due to factors that the various types have in common.

These shared factors are having a relationship with a therapist who is warm, respectful, and friendly. Hence, whether someone is getting cognitive behavior therapy or object relations therapy or Jungian therapy, etc., all therapies are equal and all must have prizes! Or so the dodo bird verdict claims!

Some scientists who believe in empirical supported therapies would not consider this fair. These scientists would argue that specific therapies are helpful to specific people in specific situation with specific problems. But that’s probably information for another blog post!