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Keywords:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • therapeutic alliance;
  • adolescents;
  • family-based treatment

Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between therapeutic alliance and treatment outcome (remission status) in family-based treatment (FBT) and adolescent-focused therapy (AFT) for adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN).

Method:

Independent observers rated audiotapes of early therapy sessions using the Working Alliance Inventory-Observer Version (WAI-o). Outcome was defined using established cut-points for full and partial remission. To control for effects of early symptom improvement, changes in weight- and eating-related psychopathology prior to the alliance session were calculated and entered as a covariate in each analysis.

Results:

Participants in AFT had significantly higher alliance scores; however, overall scores were high in both therapies. The alliance was not a predictor of full remission for either treatment, though it was a non-specific predictor for partial remission.

Discussion:

Therapeutic alliance is achievable in adolescents with AN in both AFT and FBT, but demonstrated no relationship to full remission of the disorder. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013)