Therapist sensitivity towards emotional life-career issues and the working alliance with suicide attempters

Arch Suicide Res. 2004;8(3):203-13. doi: 10.1080/13811110490436792.


This study investigated the usefulness of an action theoretical model of suicide in interviewing suicide attempters. Eighteen interviews were video-recorded and transcribed. The patients' narratives were reconstructed and life-career issues relevant for the patient's suicidality formulated. Skin conductance response was used to determine narrative content associated with actualized emotions. Scores of the patients' ratings of helping alliance experienced in the interview were positively associated with the therapists' sensitivity towards emotionally relevant life-career issues. Furthermore, relationship satisfaction was related to a narrative interviewing style. We conclude that working alliance in clinical interviews with suicide attempters can be improved when the interviewer uses a patient-oriented approach aimed at understanding the patient's suicidality in the context of personal life-career, or identity issues.