The purpose of the current study was to further the research involving the
relationships between client negative life events and the therapeutic working alliance.
The working alliance construct stems largely from the work of Bordin, who defined the
working alliance as an integrated relationship involving three concepts of tasks, bonds,
and goals that work together to determine the quality and strength of the therapeutic
relationship (Bordin, 1976). The working alliance has been found to relate to therapy
outcome (Crits-Christoph, Gibbons, Hamilton, Ring-Kurtz, & Gallop, 2011), making it
an important topic for study. This dissertation explored the relationship between client
family experiences and the working alliance in therapy.
Participants used in the study were college students who were participating in
therapy at one of 38 college counseling centers across the nation. Data was gathered
through the Research Consortium of Counseling and Psychological services in Higher Education during the time period of 1997 to 1998. Participants completed a Family
Experiences measurement where they reported information regarding events that have
occurred within their family of origin. These items were developed specifically for the
research consortium. Participants also completed the Working Alliance Inventory –
Client Version (WAI; Horvath & Greenberg, 1989) to assess the working alliance with
A canonical correlation revealed no statistically significant relationship between
Family Experiences items and subscales on the WAI. Four multiple regressions were
completed, which showed no statistically significant relationship between Family Experiences items and the WAI subscales of Goals, Bond, and Tasks as well as overall
WAI scores. Further analyses of these relationships were explored with confidence
intervals, which showed small relationships between WAI subscales and Family
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2012. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Thomas M. Skovholt, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 95 pages, appendices A-B.
Joachim, Kathleen Alice.
The relationship between negative life events as measured by family experiences and the working alliance..
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