City Research Online

Attachment and Psychotherapy

McKay, J.M. (2010). Attachment and Psychotherapy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between therapy outcome, the therapeutic alliance and both patient and therapist attachment styles. 14 therapists and 27 patients participated. 78.57% (n = 11) therapists and 29.63% (n = 8) patients were classified as securely attached by self-report measures. It was predicted that more patients of secure therapists would show clinically significant improvement as determined by CORE-OM scores. However, 21.05% of patients with a secure attachment style therapist compared to 40% of patients with a dismissing attachment style therapist showed clinically significant improvement. Short-term therapies of once-weekly intensity enabled dismissing style patients to restore their defences, reduce distress and show clinically significant change in terms of reduction of symptomatology. There did not appear to be an association between attachment style of either therapist or patient and overall ratings of the alliance in this study. However, changes in both therapist and client ratings of the ARM subscales for Confidence and Openness between Time 1 and Time 2 suggested that therapist and client were beginning to perceive the alliance more similarly as therapy progressed. Mediation of the relationship between attachment style and therapeutic outcome by the therapeutic alliance was not found to be significant. A significant finding in this study was that patient participants were more likely to have only brothers and no sisters (51.9%, n = 14), X2 = 13.15, df = 3, p = 0.004.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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