Amanda Mendez is a fourth year PsyD student at Loma Linda University, School of Behavioral Health. She has a growing interest in the mechanisms producing therapeutic outcomes. Her experience includes 10 years working with persons in crisis and histories of traumatic experiences, assisting them make changes in their lives. With the most recent three years as a clinician providing outpatient therapy, this clinical experience has revealed the importance of a therapeutic alliance, and understanding what helps others who are in need of change. Recognizing various strengths of therapists and growing in the knowledge of the many aspects and processes of therapy, has provided her strong motivation to conduct this research. Her ultimate goal is to expand research on the therapeutic alliance and therapist personality, inform the training of therapists in order to improve patient outcomes, and serve as a consultant to educate and inform other training programs.
The relationship between the therapeutic alliance and psychotherapy outcome has been well documented in the literature. The therapeutic alliance is considered a “main curative component1” in the interpersonal process of therapy, and is the foundation necessary for successful therapy outcomes across various orientations of psychotherapy. Still, far less research has examined the relationship between specific therapist personality characteristics and the quality of the therapeutic alliance. The current study was aimed at examining the relationship between several therapist personality traits and the therapeutic alliance. The study utilized the Working Alliance Inventory Short-Form (WAI-S) to measure client-reported therapeutic alliance, and the NEO-FFI to measure therapist personality. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to compare the relationship of agreeableness to the therapeutic alliance in groups of highly rated, average rated, and low rated working alliance. Therapists were grouped by the quality of their working alliance score and the scoring profile associated with each factor. On the NEO-FFI, agreeableness is divided into levels of low (T= 35-44), average (T= 45-55), high (T= 56-65), and very high (T > 65). Those who scored in the high range (T> 56) of agreeableness demonstrate the highest levels of warmth, empathy, honesty, and trustworthiness. Results indicated that agreeableness was found to be a significantly related to the quality of the therapeutic alliance (F[2, 39] = 7.09, p < .00). Overall, higher levels of agreeableness were associated with higher ratings of therapeutic alliance, as well as the highest level of participation in the study. These findings suggest that therapist agreeableness is one important ingredient in strengthening the therapeutic alliance and reducing premature dropout. These findings also suggest the importance of therapists better understanding their degree of agreeableness and, if necessary, working to develop greater agreeableness for the purpose of strengthening their therapeutic alliances with patients.
Maya Corman (Université Clermont Auvergne, LAPSCO CNRS UMR 6024) is a second year Ph.D student in psycho-oncology under the supervision of Pr. Michaël Dambrun, Pr Regis Peffault Delatour and Jacques-Olivier Bay. Her thesis work focuses on a psychological approach of people with hemopathy and undergoing stem hematopoietic cell transplantation process. This topic has two issues : the first issue aims to identify deleterious (e.g anxiety) or protective (e.g optimism) psychological factors involved in the differents steps of bone marrow transplantation process. The second aims to put in place preventive intervention focused on emotion and attention regulation in order to reduce psychological distress before hospitalisation and provide to patients some emotional and attentional ressources to cope with this event in a adaptive way. By proposing such an intervention via a digital platform this program aims to overcome hospitalisation constraints like isolation and treatment side effects getting patients physically and psychologically vulnerable.
People undergoing bone marrow transplantation may have some psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and physical symptoms as pains all along the process, especially during hospitalisation. An investigation about a new preventive intervention to help people to cope with this event has been led. This program is divided into three subtasks: the first one is a new attentional bias modification task, the second one is an optimizing emotional regulation task and the third one is a mindfulness intervention. Each task aim to facilitate the realisation of the next one. The program would be implementable at home and during hospitalization with a digital platform. Before implentation in hospital, a pilot study was conducted in laboratory with the first subprogram. Methodology & Theoritical Orientation : 38 students were recruited (Mage=22.6 , SD=7.2, Nexperimental condition= 19). This attentional bias modification task consisted in detecting a positive picture amongst three others (negatives and neutrals), moving it toward the screen’s center and savoring the associated emotion. Before and after trainings they realized an eye tracker procedure in order to detect the presence of an attentional bias modification. Findings : The increase of positivity bias (i.e. a longer fixation time on positive stimuli) was significantly greater in the experimental condition than in the control one. There is no significant decrease in negativity bias in the experimental condition as control. The effects of the task on positivity bias tend to be greater for subjects with depressive symptoms. Conclusion & significance : First result of this pilot study provides interesting elements to pursue our investigations. Next step is to test effectiveness of the second intervention (a positive psychology one) with completion of the first task. Finally, we will test the whole program before proposing it to patients before and during their hospitalization.