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The consistent association between therapeutic alliance and outcome underlines the importance of identifying factors which predict the development of a positive alliance. However, only few studies have examined the association between pretreatment characteristics and alliance formation in patients with schizophrenia.
The study examined whether symptoms and insight would predict the therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy of schizophrenia. Further, the associations and differences between patient and therapist alliance ratings were studied.
Eighty patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders received manual-based psychotherapy. Assessment of symptoms and insight was conducted at baseline, and questionnaire-based alliance ratings were obtained three weeks into treatment. Patient and therapist alliance ratings were examined separately.
Patient and therapist alliance ratings were not significantly correlated (r = 0.17). Patient ratings of the alliance were significantly higher than the ratings of their therapists (d = 0.73). More insight in psychosis significantly predicted higher patient ratings of the alliance. Less positive and negative symptoms were significant predictors of higher therapist alliance ratings.
The findings indicate that symptoms and insight have an influence on the therapeutic alliance in the treatment of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Patients' and therapists' perceptions of the alliance do not seem to demonstrate much convergence.
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