Therapist alliance-building behavior within a cognitive-behavioral treatment for anxiety in youth

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005 Jun;73(3):498-505. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.73.3.498.


Explored the specific behavior of therapists contributing to a child client's perception of a therapeutic alliance with youth (n = 56) who received a manualized cognitive-behavioral treatment for anxiety disorders. The first 3 sessions were coded for 11 therapist behaviors hypothesized to predict ratings of alliance. Child, therapist, and observer alliance ratings were gathered after the 3rd and 7th therapy sessions. "Collaboration" positively predicted early child ratings of alliance, and "finding common ground" and "pushing the child to talk" negatively predicted early child ratings of alliance. Although no coded therapist behaviors predicted early therapist ratings of alliance, "collaboration" and "not being overly formal" positively predicted therapist alliance ratings by Session 7. Child, observer, and therapist ratings of alliance were significantly correlated. Results are discussed with regard to the identified behavior of the therapist as a step toward the identification of empirically supported strategies for building a stronger child-therapist alliance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations*