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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An exploratory study of therapist attachment and working alliance bonds McKee, Gerard Mercier


The purpose of this study was to examine whether therapists' responses to the Adult Attachment Questionnaire (AAQ, Hazan & Shaver, 1987) and the Adult Attachment Scale (AAS; Collins & Read, 1990) would be predictive of the strength of client and therapist reported Bond scores on the Working Alliance Inventory-Short Form (WAI-S; Tracey & Kokotovic, 1989). A total of 40 Lower Mainland of British Columbia therapists participated in Phase 1 of the study by completing the AAQ, the AAS and a demographic questionnaire. A total of 10 of these therapists participated in Phase 2 of the study. Each of the Phase 2 therapists recruited three clients to participate in the study. Immediately following the third session, both therapists and clients completed the WAI-S. Clients also completed the AAQ and a short demographic questionnaire. Although an uneven distribution of attachment types in the sample precluded any formal statistical analysis, visual examination of therapists' responses to the attachment measures suggests that therapists who chose the Secure AAQ description obtained higher mean scores on the AAS Close and Depend dimensions and lower AAS Anxiety dimension scores than therapists who chose the insecure AAQ descriptions. Correlation matrices were compiled to examine the strength of relationships among the standings of therapists on the AAS dimensions, on therapist ratings of the WAI-S and client ratings of the WAI-S. No significant correlations were found in relation to therapists' AAS dimension scores and therapist or client WAI-S ratings. Significant correlations were found for both client and therapist WAI-S interscale ratings and between client and therapist WAI-S ratings. A t-test was carried out to examine high and low WAI-S Bond ratings of clients in relation to therapists' WAI-S ratings. Significant differences were found between the WAI-S Bond ratings of therapists whose clients were identified as having high WAI-S Bond ratings and the WAI-S Bond ratings of therapists whose clients were identified as having low WAI-S ratings. The study found no evidence that attachment information in general predicts the strength of working alliance bonds. However, support was found for the predictive ability of the AAS Depend dimension. The Depend dimension scores of therapists whose clients reported higher WAI-S Bond strength were significantly different from the Depend dimension scores of therapists whose clients reported lower WAI-S Bond strength.

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