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Predicting the early therapeutic alliance in the treatment of drug misuse

Authors


Petra Meier, Department of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health, Social Care, Law and  Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 0JA, UK, Tel: 0161 247 2550, E-mail: p.meier@mmu.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Aims  To predict the early therapeutic alliance from a range of potentially relevant factors, including clients’ social relationships, motivation and psychological resources, and counsellors’ professional experience and ex-user status.

Design  The study recruited 187 clients starting residential rehabilitation treatment for drug misuse in three UK services. Counsellor and client information was assessed at intake, and client and counsellor ratings of the alliance were obtained during weeks 1, 2 and 3.

Measurements  The intake assessment battery included scales on psychological wellbeing, treatment motivation, coping strategies and attachment style. Client and counsellor versions of the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI-S) were used for weekly alliance measurement. Hierarchical linear models were used to examine the relationship between alliance and predictor variables.

Findings  Clients who had better motivation, coping strategies, social support and a secure attachment style were more likely to develop good alliances. Findings with regard to counsellor characteristics were not clear cut: clients rated their relationships with ex-user counsellors, experienced counsellors and male counsellors as better, but more experienced counsellors rated their alliances as worse.

Conclusions  The findings offer important leads as to what interventions might improve the therapeutic alliance. Further work will need to establish whether the therapeutic alliance and ultimately treatment outcomes can be enhanced by working on improving clients’ motivation and psychosocial resources.

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