The relationship between youth involvement, alliance and outcome in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy

Psychother Res. 2022 Sep 20;1-12. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2022.2123719. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Research suggests that combining the trauma-specific elements with a strong alliance helps optimize treatment outcomes in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for youth. Building on this, we investigate whether more positive and less negative involvement behaviors during trauma narration are associated with a stronger alliance and predict fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS).

Method: Participants were 65 youth (M age = 15.5, SD = 2.2; 77% girls) receiving TF-CBT. Both youth self-report (Child PTSD Symptom Scale and Therapeutic Alliance Scale for Children) and observer ratings (Client Involvement Rating Scale) were used, and relationships were investigated with correlations and regression analyses.

Results: The positive involvement behaviors demonstration of treatment understanding and self-disclosure predicted fewer PTSS but were not associated with the alliance - while initiation of discussions and showing enthusiasm predicted more PTSS but were associated with a stronger alliance. The negative involvement behaviors passivity and avoidance did not predict PTSS but were negatively associated with the alliance.

Conclusion: The relationships between traumatized youths' positive and negative involvement behaviors, alliance and PTSS outcomes appear mixed. The combination of a clear understanding of why processing the trauma can be helpful, more trauma-related self-disclosure and a stronger alliance seem favorable for alleviating PTSS.Trial registration: identifier: NCT00635752..

Keywords: TF-CBT; alliance; involvement; trauma; youth.

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