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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1991 Jul;179(7):432-8.

Quality of object relations versus interpersonal functioning as predictors of therapeutic alliance and psychotherapy outcome.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The purpose of the study was to compare an interview measure of quality of object relations to questionnaire and interview measures of recent interpersonal functioning with respect to the prediction of therapeutic alliance and psychotherapy outcome. The sample consisted of 64 patients who had received approximately 20 sessions of short-term individual psychotherapy within a controlled, clinical-trial investigation. Ratings of therapeutic alliance were provided independently by the patient and the therapist after each session. Outcome measures, which were provided by three sources (patient, therapist, and independent assessor), covered the areas of interpersonal functioning, psychiatric symptomatology, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Quality of object relations, which characterizes the patient's lifelong pattern of relationships, was the best predictor. It was significantly related to patient-rated and therapist-rated therapeutic alliance and to patient improvement of both general symptomatology and specific target problems. The study also replicated previous studies that have reported significant relationships between therapeutic alliance and therapy outcome. The advantages of pretherapy predictors of therapy outcome, such as quality of object relations, are discussed.

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