Working alliance, real relationship, session quality, and client improvement in psychodynamic psychotherapy: A longitudinal actor partner interdependence model

J Couns Psychol. 2016 Mar;63(2):149-61. doi: 10.1037/cou0000134. Epub 2015 Dec 21.

Abstract

We used the Actor Partner Interdependence Model (APIM; Kashy & Kenny, 2000) to examine the dyadic associations of 74 clients and 23 therapists in their evaluations of working alliance, real relationship, session quality, and client improvement over time in ongoing psychodynamic or interpersonal psychotherapy. There were significant actor effects for both therapists and clients, with the participant's own ratings of working alliance and real relationship independently predicting their own evaluations of session quality. There were significant client partner effects, with clients' working alliance and real relationship independently predicting their therapists' evaluations of session quality. The client partner real relationship effect was stronger in later sessions than in earlier sessions. Therapists' real relationship ratings (partner effect) were a stronger predictor of clients' session quality ratings in later sessions than in earlier sessions. Therapists' working alliance ratings (partner effect) were a stronger predictor of clients' session quality ratings when clients made greater improvement than when clients made lesser improvement. For clients' session outcome ratings, there were complex three-way interactions, such that both Client real relationship and working alliance interacted with client improvement and time in treatment to predict clients' session quality. These findings strongly suggest both individual and partner effects when clients and therapists evaluate psychotherapy process and outcome. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes*
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult