Therapeutic alliance in psychological therapy for people with recent onset psychosis who use cannabis

Berry, Katherine and Gregg, Lynsey and Lobban, Anne Fiona and Barrowclough, Christine (2016) Therapeutic alliance in psychological therapy for people with recent onset psychosis who use cannabis. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 67. pp. 73-80. ISSN 0010-440X

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Background This paper examines the role of therapeutic alliance in predicting outcomes in a Randomised Controlled Trial of Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MICBT) for problematic cannabis use in recent onset psychosis. Methods All clients were participating in a three arm pragmatic rater-blind randomised controlled trial of brief MICBT plus standard care compared with longer term MICBT plus standard care and standard care alone. Participants completed measures to assess clinical symptoms, global functioning and substance misuse at baseline, 4.5 months, 9 months and 18 months. Clients and therapists completed the Working Alliance Inventory approximately one month into therapy. Client alliance data was available for 35 participants randomised to therapy and therapist alliance data was available for 52 participants randomised to therapy. Results At baseline, poorer client-rated alliance was associated with more negative symptoms, poorer insight and greater cannabis use, whereas poorer therapist-rated alliance was only associated with amount of cannabis used per cannabis using day. Alliance ratings were also positively associated with amount of therapy: client-rated alliance was higher in the longer compared to the briefer therapy; therapist-rated alliance was associated with greater number of sessions attended (controlling for type of therapy) and therapy completion. In predicting outcome, client-rated alliance predicted total symptom scores and global functioning scores at follow-up. Neither client nor therapist alliance predicted changes in substance misuse at any time point. Conclusions Findings demonstrate that individuals with psychosis and substance misuse who form better alliances with their therapists gain greater benefits from therapy, at least in terms of improvements in global functioning.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Comprehensive Psychiatry
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Comprehensive Psychiatry. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Comprehensive Psychiatry, 67, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2016.02.014
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Deposited On:
05 Aug 2016 15:31
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 03:02