Therapeutic alliance in marital therapy
Reif, Clara Lynne
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From a systemic perspective, there is more to therapeutic alliance than the relationship between one client and one therapist. This is especially evident in marital therapy. Research in the area of therapeutic alliance and marital therapy has been extremely limited, and findings from individually oriented studies of therapeutic alliance are insufficient to account for the role and nature of alliance in systemic therapies. This dissertation provides ground work for understanding the relationship between couple relationship characteristics, client characteristics, client perceived therapist characteristics, and therapeutic alliance. Twenty-eight married, heterosexual couples were the participants in the study. Each partner filled out a questionnaire after the first couple therapy session. The questionnaire consisted of the Couple Therapy Alliance Scale (Pinsof & Catherall, 1986), the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier, 1976), the Miller Social Intimacy Scale (Miller & Lefcourt, 1982), and the Perception of Therapist Behaviors Inventory derived from research by Lorr (1965), and basic demographic information. There were no significant relationships between overall therapeutic alliance and client characteristics. Significant relationships were found between couple relationship characteristics, perceived therapist characteristics and therapeutic alliance. A stepwise multiple regression, using couple relationship characteristics, determined that social intimacy between spouses accounted for 26.2% of the variance in therapeutic alliance. A regression for perceived therapist characteristics found that perception of the therapist as not "critical-hostile" accounted for 67.9% of the variance in the total alliance, and then a second variable, seeing the therapist as "accepting," was added the two variables accounted for 75.6% of the total variance in the alliance. Both perception of therapist characteristics and couple relationship characteristics are strongly related to therapeutic alliance in marital therapy.