Norwegian version of this page

Research group for studies of Process and Outcome in psychotherapies with Experienced Therapists (POET)

The focus of the research group is the study of experienced therapists' clinical activities, and through this to contribute to knowledge and understanding of change processes in psychotherapy.

POET f.v. group leader Margrethe Seeger Halvorsen, Michael Helge Rønnestad, Kirsten Benum, John Mcleod, Anna Louise von der Lippe, Nora Sveaass (foran), Hanne Weie Oddli (bak), Hanne Haavind (bak), Sissel Reichelt (foran), Helene Amundsen Nissen-Lie and Erik Stänicke. Vidar Ekroll, Marit Råbu, Siri Gullestad and Frida Gullestad Rø are not in the photograph. Photographer: Svein Harald Milde

About the group

An overall goal for the various sub-projects in which this research group is engaged is to develop knowledge that is useful and relevant to psychotherapeutic activities, as well as knowledge that can contribute to the integration of different models and concepts for understanding change processes in psychotherapy.


The members of the research group gather around in-depth, interpretive studies of psychotherapy as a process of change over time. Through the project "An intensive process-outcome study of the interpersonal aspects of psychotherapy", which was initiated and led by Michael Helge Rønnestad until 2015, the research group has collected and stored data from 48 adult clients who have completed individual therapy with one of 18 very experienced psychotherapists. This material includes audio recordings of all therapy sessions, the therapist's and the client's assessment of each therapy session, standardized measures of the client's symptom burden, interpersonal problems and cooperation between the two parties (the work alliance) throughout the treatment, and interviews at the end of treatment and up to three years afterwards. This constitutes a rich database that enables in-depth analysis of the process and outcomes of psychotherapy.

The members carry out a number of different sub-studies, and meet regularly for professional discussions. These can be theory-building studies of individual case or studies of selected clinical phenomena as elucidated through group studies. Examples of topics that the members of the research group have investigated are e.g. how experienced therapists work and negotiate goals and working methods (work alliance) during the first therapy sessions, how the alliance is maintained over time, and how the parties later find a common understanding of what they have achieved through treatment and how this can be terminated. Other topics include what characterizes the experience of experienced therapists in complex and demanding courses of therapy, possible factors that are related to continued positive change versus relapse after completion of therapy, and how we can understand the concept of expertise in psychotherapy.


All the researchers who participate in the group use data from the database that was built up in the period 2006-2016, with support from the Research Council of Norway and the University of Oslo. The group collaborates with international psychotherapy research environments, e.g. through the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR). The advisory group for the project consists of Prof. David Orlinsky (University of Chicago), Prof. Robert Elliott (University of Strachclyde), Prof. Bruce Wampold (University of Wisconsin), and Prof. Leslie Greenberg (York University).

Published July 7, 2022 10:21 AM - Last modified July 7, 2022 1:24 PM