Attachment Styles and Interpersonal Motives of Psychotherapy Trainees

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Abstract

Interpersonal characteristics contribute to therapists’ ability to form helpful working alliances with their patients. But how are attachment styles and interpersonal motives distributed among therapist trainees? This study examines attachment styles and interpersonal motives of therapist trainees by comparing them with matched reference samples from representative surveys. A total sample of 285 trainees, who were enrolled in either cognitive–behavioral or psychodynamic therapy training programs, was recruited via their training institutes. Participants answered questionnaires on attachment (Experiences in Close Relationships–Revised, 36-item version, and Experiences in Close Relationships–Revised, 8-item version) and interpersonal motives (Circumplex Scales of Interpersonal Values). Compared with 2 matched nonclinical reference samples from representative surveys, therapist trainees reported lower scores on attachment-related avoidance and higher scores on harmonious interpersonal motives. Therapist trainees are characterized by a wish for warm proximity with others and feel comfortable in close relationships.

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