THE IMPACT OF TRAINEE THERAPIST PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS AND TECHNIQUE USAGE ON THE THERAPEUTIC ALLIANCE AND SESSION DEPTH
AbstractThe quality of the therapeutic alliance and the depth of the therapeutic work are thought to be two of the most important contributors to client outcomes. Moreover, it is clear that therapists differ in their ability to form strong working relationships and engage meaningfully with clients. Much less is known with regard to which specific therapist characteristics and techniques are most helpful in forming strong bonds with clients and deepening the work, especially within trainee populations. This study utilizes a multi-trait multi-method assessment of clinical graduate trainees (N = 65) prior to training and then matches these scores to process measures collected from their first therapy case. The therapy was video recorded, and observer ratings of exploration, insight, action, and supportive techniques were provided for the third session. Clients also completed the Working Alliance Inventory and the Session Evaluation Questionnaire at the third session. Regression results indicate that therapist characteristics (age, GRE score, interpersonal problems, perspective taking, and emotional investment in relationships) and technique usage (exploration, insight, action, and support) significantly predicted client-rated depth. While the overall two-step regression model was not significant for alliance, there was a significant correlation with a moderate effect for observer-rated usage of support and client-rated alliance scores. Exploratory regression results indicated technique usage variables independently predict client alliance ratings with support having a positive impact. Implications of the findings as they pertain to selection and training in clinical and counseling training programs are discussed.
AffiliationDepartment of Psychological Sciences
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