Effects of alliance ruptures and repairs on outcomes

Elke Humer*, Elisabeth Schramm, Jan Philipp Klein, Martin Härter, Martin Hautzinger, Christoph Pieh, Thomas Probst

*Corresponding author for this work


Objective: This study explored whether treatment outcomes in a trial on the Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP) vs. Supportive Psychotherapy (SP) for patients with early-onset chronic depression differ between alliance patterns. Method: Session-to-session ratings of the therapeutic alliance (Helping Alliance Questionnaire (HAQ)) from 254 outpatients with chronic depression (CBASP: 134; SP: 120) who took part in a multicenter randomized controlled trial of CBASP vs. SP were used to categorize patients into three alliance pattern categories for the patients’ and therapists’ rating separately. Based on the reliable change in the HAQ from one session to the next categories were: no rupture, unrepaired rupture, rupture-repair. Depression severity (24-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression) at post-treatment, at 12- and 24- months follow-up was the outcome. Results: The alliance pattern categories for therapists and patients did not differ between CBASP and SP. Only the alliance patterns calculated for patients were associated with outcome: in the unrepaired rupture category, patients had higher HRSD-ratings across time points (p = 0.047). Conclusions: CBASP was not associated with more or fewer ruptures or repairs as compared to SP in the treatment of chronic depression. The study highlights the need to resolve ruptures to avoid poor outcomes. Trial registration:ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00970437.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)977-987
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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