says lead author Alice Coyne, now a post-doctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. graduate of UMass Amherst.
The study tested if the patients experience more symptomatic and functional improvement in psychotherapy when a higher-quality patient-therapist alliance exists, as well as when the patient has a more positive expectation for change.
Moreover, the study also anticipated if these associations differed based on who the therapist is. Finally, the study also looked at whether certain therapist characteristics predict which therapists tend to use relationship and belief processes to more therapeutic benefit across their caseloads.
Psychotherapy and Factors Influencing
To examine these, the team analyzed data from 212 adults who were treated by 42 psychotherapists as part of a randomized trial that compared case-assignment methods in community-based mental health care.
The patients were repeatedly asked to complete the surveys that measured their alliance quality with the therapist and their expectations for improvement.
It was found that in general, all the three hypothesized statements were correct. Better alliance quality and more positive outcome expectations were associated with better treatment outcomes.
In addition, as predicted, therapists exhibited different strengths and weaknesses in their use of relationship, alliance, and belief processes.
“If you learn the things that you do particularly well as a therapist, then you can tailor your practice and play to your strengths,” says, Coyne.