From the “Draft Manifesto for a Social Materialist Psychology of Distress (published in the Journal of Critical Psychology, 2012) When therapy succeeds it seems to be primarily a matter of two kinds of influence: on the one hand relationality (ordinary human compassion and understanding); on the other, coincidence with social and material and circumstances and resources. In the therapy literature is it well established that the clients who do best are generally young, attractive, verbal, intelligent and successful – YAVIS. By contrast, the people whose needs are described as ‘complex’ and requiring long-term treatment are usually the poorest. Where people have (or can obtain) more resources then they will have more scope to act upon whatever insights they might have gained. It is also well-established in this literature that so-called ‘non-specific factors’ are a consistent predictor of good outcomes: in other words, that the therapist and client are able to establish a good relationship. Indeed, unlike professional therapists, service users frequently declare the most ordinary aspects of therapy the most helpful: listening, understanding, respectfulness. Despite this, therapy is mostly presented as a matter of technique. CBT, psychoanalysis, and almost all other schools of therapy appear as specialist technologies of subjectivity, skilled interpersonal practices founded on specific assumptions, locked in place by particular theories and evidence bases. In a thoroughly commodified society it is perhaps understandable that some practitioners will want to have branded, marketable products, just as in a professionalised culture some will want to identify themselves as bearers of highly specialised knowledge and skills. Like everyone else, therapists must earn a living, so it is only to be expected that interest should influence how they present themselves and their work. Nevertheless, doing so distracts attention from the actual causes of distress by bolstering the belief that it is a mysterious state amenable only to professional help; it disables friends and family, who may feel that they could not possibly understand; and it negates the contribution of community, solidarity and trust. The presentation of therapy as specialised technique cheapens and oversells psychology itself; leads to resources being wasted comparing the marginal differences between this brand and that; and deflects effort and attention from the very real opportunities for psychological research and insight that are supplied by the highly privileged situation of the therapeutic encounter.