Therapeutic alliance in guided internet-delivered cognitive behavioural treatment of depression, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder

Behav Res Ther. 2012 Sep;50(9):544-50. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 May 18.


Guided internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (ICBT) has been found to be effective in several controlled trials, but the mechanisms of change are largely unknown. Therapeutic alliance is a factor that has been studied in many psychotherapy trials, but the role of therapeutic alliance in ICBT is less well known. The present study investigated early alliance ratings in three separate samples. Participants from one sample of depressed individuals (N = 49), one sample of individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (N = 35), and one sample with social anxiety disorder (N = 90) completed the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) modified for ICBT early in the treatment (weeks 3-4) when they took part in guided ICBT for their conditions. Results showed that alliance ratings were high in all three samples and that the WAI including the subscales of Task, Goal and Bond had high internal consistencies. Overall, correlations between the WAI and residualized change scores on the primary outcome measures were small and not statistically significant. We conclude that even if alliance ratings are in line with face-to-face studies, therapeutic alliance as measured by the WAI is probably less important in ICBT than in regular face-to-face psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome