Suicide Ideation Is Related to Therapeutic Alliance in a Brief Therapy for Attempted Suicide

Arch Suicide Res. 2017 Jan 2;21(1):113-126. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2016.1162242. Epub 2016 Mar 16.


The objective of this study was to investigate the role of therapeutic alliance on suicide ideation as outcome measure in a brief therapy for patients who attempted suicide. Sixty patients received the 3-session therapy supplemented by follow-up contact through regular letters. Therapeutic alliance was measured with the Helping Alliance Questionnaire (HAQ). Outcome at 6 and 12 months was measured with the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS). Therapeutic alliance increased from session 1 to session 3. Higher alliance measures correlated with lower suicidal ideation at 12 months follow-up. A history of previous attempts and depression had a negative affect on therapeutic alliance. The results suggest that in the treatment of suicidal patients therapeutic alliance may be a moderating factor for reducing suicide ideation.

Keywords: attempted suicide; suicidal ideation; therapeutic alliance; treatment engagement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Young Adult