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Optimizing the Alliance in Couple Therapy


  • This research was supported by SSHRC Grant 410-93-1130, Adam Horvath, principal investigator.

concerning this article should be addressed to Dianne Symonds, Kwantlen University College, 12666 72nd Avenue, Surrey, BC Canada V3W 2M8. E-mail:


The complexity of the relation between alliance and outcome in couple therapy was investigated in a study of 47 couples in brief therapy. Self-rated alliance was measured after the first and third sessions using the couple version of the Working Alliance Inventory. The results indicated that the correlation between alliance and outcome was significantly stronger when the partners agreed about the strength of the alliance, when the male partner's alliance was stronger than the female's, and when the strength of both partners' alliance increased as therapy progressed. The authors suggest that a unique feature of couple therapy is that the partners have both a preexisting relationship with each other (allegiance) and an alliance with the therapist to balance.

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