The role of attachment style, attachment to therapist, and working alliance in response to psychological therapy

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Objectives.Working alliance (WA) has been shown to be an important process influencing the success of therapy. The association of clients' underlying attachment representations with WA and the subsequent success of therapy has increasingly been recognized. This study explores the association between adult attachment representations, specific attachment to the therapist and WA in patients receiving psychological therapy.Method.Fifty-eight participants due to receive therapy were recruited from primary care psychological services. Participants completed self-report measures of attachment, WA, and psychopathology.Results.Patients with greater secure attachment to the therapist showed significantly greater WA. In a subset of participants completing therapy, change in outcome was also correlated with baseline attachment towards the therapist.Conclusions.The study suggests that attachment towards the therapist is an important predictor of WA. The results suggest that in terms of WA, attachment to the therapist may be more important than pre-existing attachment representations.

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