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Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2014 Mar 6;5. doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v5.22676. eCollection 2014.

The impact of the therapeutic alliance on treatment outcome in patients with dissociative disorders.

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Department of Psychology, Towson University, Towson, MD, USA.



Research has shown that the therapeutic alliance plays an important role in enhancing treatment outcome among individuals with a variety of disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the therapeutic alliance and treatment outcome has not yet been studied in dissociative disorders (DD).


The current study sought to investigate the impact of alliance on treatment outcome for DD patients.


Data from a naturalistic, longitudinal international treatment study of DD patients and their therapists were analyzed to determine if the alliance, as reported by patients and therapists, was associated with treatment outcome.


Patients with higher self-rated alliance had fewer symptoms of dissociation, PTSD, and general distress, as well as higher levels of therapist-rated adaptive functioning. Over time, self-rated alliance scores predicted better outcomes, after controlling for patient adaptive capacities including symptom management at the time when the alliance ratings were made. Patient-rated alliance was more strongly associated with outcome than therapist-rated alliance.


Therapists who work with DD patients should understand the importance of the alliance on treatment outcome. These findings are consistent with previous literature demonstrating the importance of developing and maintaining a strong therapeutic alliance, although the effect sizes of individuals with DD were stronger than what has been found in many other patient groups. A greater understanding of the impact of the alliance in traumatized individuals may contribute to better outcomes for these individuals.


Dissociative; PTSD; alliance; trauma; treatment

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