Ruptures and resolutions of the therapeutic working alliance in three forms of psychotherapy

2019-2023 / Lead: Dr. Johannes Ehrenthal (University Clinic Heidelberg)

Cooperation with University Clinic Heidelberg and University Kassel (Dr. Christian Sell)

Project Outline
The working alliance is one of the best-studied factors in psychotherapy. Extensive studies and meta-analyses have established the "Alliance-Outcome-Correlation" (AOC) across different treatment modalities with medium effects. At the same time, ruptures of the working relationship are a frequent phenomenon in therapies. Studies indicate that unresolved ruptures are associated with a worse, resolved ruptures with a better treatment outcome. So far, however, there are few studies that compare these phenomena in a comparable group of patients in the three therapies that have are currently financed in the German health care system: (Cognitive-)Behavioural therapy, psychodynamic “depth” psychotherapy and analytic psychotherapy. This is of theoretical relevance, as the three forms differ in their models of how to work with and within the therapeutic relationship. For practice it is important as well, because a better understanding of what might be particularly helpful in a specific treatment method can improve future training of therapists.

In the project, which is realized in a cooperation between the IPU Berlin, the University Hospital Heidelberg and the University of Kassel (Dr. Christian Sell), types and severity of alliance ruptures and types and success of their resolution are quantified on the basis of several sessions from different treatment phases with the Rupture Resolution Rating System (3RS). In addition, these measures will be linked to ratings of the therapeutic alliance, therapy outcome, and other variables as appropriate. After completion of the study, practice-oriented recommendations will be published as well.

Project Team
University Clinic Heidelberg
Dr. Johannes C. Ehrenthal
Phone: +49-(0)6221-56 8149

University Kassel
Dr. Christian Sell
Phone: +49-(0)561-804 2896

IPU Berlin
Prof. Dr. Dr. Dorothea Huber

Imke Grimm, M.A. Psych.
Phone: +49 30 300 117-776