The relationship between interpersonal dependency and therapeutic alliance: Perspectives of clients and therapists.

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Both interpersonal dependency and the importance of the therapeutic alliance to successful psychotherapy outcomes have been widely studied. However, these two areas of study rarely have been viewed conjointly despite the reportedly large number of clients with dependency who present for treatment. This study elucidated the relationship between interpersonal dependency and the therapeutic alliance. Additional hypotheses explored client-therapist agreement on alliance strength in relation to client interpersonal dependency. Participants were graduate student therapists (N = 26) and their individual psychotherapy clients (N = 40) in a training clinic at a large, southwestern university. Within their first three sessions of psychotherapy, ... continued below

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Mitchell, Jessica L. August 2008.

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  • Mitchell, Jessica L.

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Both interpersonal dependency and the importance of the therapeutic alliance to successful psychotherapy outcomes have been widely studied. However, these two areas of study rarely have been viewed conjointly despite the reportedly large number of clients with dependency who present for treatment. This study elucidated the relationship between interpersonal dependency and the therapeutic alliance. Additional hypotheses explored client-therapist agreement on alliance strength in relation to client interpersonal dependency. Participants were graduate student therapists (N = 26) and their individual psychotherapy clients (N = 40) in a training clinic at a large, southwestern university. Within their first three sessions of psychotherapy, participating clients told nine Thematic Apperception Test stories and completed structured self-report measures of adult attachment, social desirability, and psychological symptoms. Interpersonal dependency was scored from the TAT stories, using the TAT Oral Dependency (TOD) scoring system developed by Masling, Rabie, and Blondheim (1967) and Huprich (2008). Three sessions following initial data collection, participating clients and their therapists completed structured self-report measures of the therapeutic alliance. Analyses revealed that interpersonal dependency was not significantly associated with client and therapist alliance ratings or the congruence between client and therapist alliance ratings. However, specific scoring categories of the TOD were associated with client alliance scores in opposing directions. In contrast to hypotheses, self-reported attachment-related dependency was significantly related to client alliance ratings and to the congruence between therapist and client alliance ratings. Clients with higher levels of self-reported attachment-related dependency rated the alliance less favorably, in agreement with their therapists, than did clients with lower levels of attachment-related dependency. Additional analyses were unsuccessful in replicating findings from previous research on interpersonal dependency. The clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed.

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  • August 2008

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  • May 11, 2009, 8:08 p.m.

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  • June 3, 2009, 2:09 p.m.

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Mitchell, Jessica L. The relationship between interpersonal dependency and therapeutic alliance: Perspectives of clients and therapists., dissertation, August 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9060/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .