Center Effects: Counseling Center Variables as Predictors of Psychotherapy Outcomes

Dever M. Carney, Louis G. Castonguay, Rebecca A. Janis, Brett E. Scofield, Jeffrey Hayes, Benjamin D. Locke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Treatment context may have a unique impact on psychotherapy outcomes, above and beyond client, therapist, and therapy process variables. University counseling centers represent one such treatment context facing increasing treatment demands. This study examined the role of counseling centers and center variables in explaining differences in psychotherapy outcomes. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health, a large practice–research network, contained data from 116 counseling centers, 2,362 therapists, and 58,423 clients. Multilevel modeling tested if some counseling centers systematically achieved better outcomes than others (a “center effect”). Outcome was operationalized as clients’ magnitude and rate of change in distress across treatment. Results showed a relatively small “center effect” for both outcomes. Analyses sought to explain that center effect through administrative policies and characteristics. As a group, these variables partially explained the center effect. None explained a large portion of total outcome variance. Potential future implications for policy and advocacy efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1037
Number of pages25
JournalCounseling Psychologist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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