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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the therapeutic alliance in couple therapy Gruman, Mary


The present study was an exploratory process-outcome examination of the therapeutic alliance in couple therapy as measured by a generic measurement instrument of the alliance. Measures were taken on a sample of eighty-four subjects; fifty-six subjects received emotionally-focused couple therapy and twenty-eight subjects received interactional/systemic couple therapy. Three aspects of the alliance were investigated: (1) the power of the alliance in predicting outcome in the two models of couple therapy; (2) the characteristics of the alliance in terms of its content and interpersonal system dimensions; (3) the interaction of couple characteristics with alliance and style of therapy in effecting outcome. The content dimension refers to the (a) task, (b) goal, and (c) bond components of the alliance; the interpersonal system components consist of the client's perceptions of the alliance between the therapist and: (a) the client (self-therapist), (b) the client's partner (other-therapist), and (c) the couple (relationship-therapist). Results indicated that the other-therapist component of the alliance consistently correlated with outcome measures in the two therapies; that the alliance correlated differently with the three outcome measures, and that it correlated differently with the outcome measures for the two models of therapy; that the characteristics of the alliance remained stable across the therapies and over time; that the strength of the alliance increased over time in emotionally-focused therapy. No interactive effects of alliance and couple characteristics were discovered.

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