Investigating the impact of early alliance on predicting subjective change at posttreatment: An evidence-based souvenir of overlooked clinical perspectives

J Couns Psychol. 2019 Oct;66(5):613-625. doi: 10.1037/cou0000336. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


[Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 66(5) of Journal of Counseling Psychology (see record 2019-58882-002). In the article, a portion, +γ₄₀ERit, was omitted in the Model 3 formula. The corrected formula is presented in the erratum. All versions of this article have been corrected.] Despite meta-analytic evidence showing that alliance is associated with posttreatment outcomes, several open questions still remain regarding this relation. First, we investigate whether (or not) the progressive aggregation of early alliance assessments increases the alliance-outcome relation across 2 distress and 4 subjective change measures. Second, we investigate whether the alliance-outcome relations using subjective change measures are independent from intake distress and early response. Third, we explore whether the progressive aggregation of the alliance on outcomes becomes particularly apparent between or within therapists again investigating these six outcome measures. Data were drawn from N = 430 patients treated by N = 151 therapists. Patient ratings of early alliance were assessed after Session 1 to 6. For outcome, 2 commonly used distress measures at intake and at posttreatment and 4 measures of retrospectively evaluated subjective change at posttreatment are integrated into a series of multilevel models. The proportion of variance in outcome predicted by alliance scores varied considerably depending on the number of alliance assessments which were aggregated, as well as on the type of outcome assessment (distress vs. subjective change measures) explaining up to 15% of outcome variance. Improvements in the strength of prediction with aggregated alliance assessments were most pronounced for subjective change measures for between-therapist components of the alliance. Examining associations with subjective change measures provides an additional, patient-centered perspective of the relation between early alliance and treatment outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / trends*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Psychotherapy / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Student Health Services / trends*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult