The relationship between alliance and outcome: Analysis of a two-person perspective on alliance and session outcome

Sigal Zilcha-Mano, J. Christopher Muran, Clara Hungr, Catherine F. Eubanks, Jeremy D. Safran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Better alliance is known to predict better psychotherapy outcomes, but the interdependent and interactive effects of both therapist- and patient-reported alliance levels have yet to be systematically investigated. Method: Using actor-partner interdependence model analysis the authors estimated actor, partner, and 2 types of interactive effects of alliance on session outcome in a sample of 241 patient- therapist dyads across 30 sessions of cognitive-behavioral and alliance-focused therapy. Results: Findings suggest that the most robust predictors of session outcome are within-treatment changes in patient reports of the alliance, which predict both patient and therapist report on outcome. Withintreatment changes in therapist reports of the alliance, as well as differences between patients and between therapists in their average ratings of alliance levels across treatment, predict outcome as reported by the specific individual. Although alliance was found to be a significant predictor of outcome in both treatments, for therapist-reported alliance and outcome it had a stronger effect in alliance-focused therapy than in cognitive- behavioral therapy. Additionally, dyads with the highest pooled level of alliance from both partners fared best on session outcome. Conclusions: The results are consistent with a 2-person perspective on psychotherapy, demonstrating the importance of considering the interdependent and interactive nature of both patient and therapist alliance levels on session outcome.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)484-496
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • 2-person psychology
  • alliance
  • outcome
  • psychotherapy processes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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