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Psychotherapy (Chic). 2012 Sep;49(3):291-302. doi: 10.1037/a0027895.

Different processes for different therapies: therapist actions, therapeutic bond, and outcome.

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Research Institute, Modum Bad Psychiatric Center, Vikersund, Norway.


Therapeutic bond, as a component of the alliance, is considered a common factor in psychotherapy; however, it may operate differently in various treatments. This article investigates therapist actions, particularly affect focus, in the formation of the bond and on reduction of symptoms in short-term dynamic psychotherapy (STDP) and cognitive therapy (CT) for cluster C patients. Forty-six cases (23 STDP and 23 CT) were assessed using the Psychotherapy Process Q-Sort, the Helping Alliance Questionnaire, and the Symptom Checklist 90. These scores were used to determine (a) therapist actions that predict formation of the bond, (b) the relation of the bond to symptom reduction, and (c) how therapist actions and bond interacted to reduce symptoms. Multiple regressions were applied to the total sample and to the STDP and CT cases. Psychotherapy Process Q-Sort items describing avoidance of affects were positively related to the bond in the total sample, STDP and CT. However, the relation between therapist actions, bond, and symptom reduction differed for the two treatments. For STDP, avoidance of affect suppressed the relation of bond to symptom reduction and also negatively influenced symptom reduction. On the other hand, in CT, avoidance of affect was positively related to both the formation of the bond and to symptom reduction. Although the bond is a common factor and important component of the alliance, it appears to operate differently in STDP and CT. A focus on affect is important to the benefits of STDP but interferes with the benefits of CT.

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