Alliances in Couple and Family Therapy

Myrna L. Friedlander, Valentín Escudero, Marianne J. Welmers-van de Poll and Laurie Heatherington

in Psychotherapy Relationships that Work

Third edition

Published on behalf of John C. Norcross

Published in print June 2019 | ISBN: 9780190843953
Published online May 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190844011 | DOI:
Alliances in Couple and Family Therapy

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This chapter reviews meta-analytic evidence for the alliance-outcome relation in couple and family therapy (CFT). The authors describe the unique features of CFT alliances and their measurement, followed by case descriptions. A meta-analysis of 48 studies (Ns = 2,568 families, 1,545 couples, and 491 effect sizes) found r = .297. In another analysis with 7 independent samples and 31 effect sizes, the split alliance–outcome association was also significant, r = .316, indicating that the more split or unbalanced the alliance, the poorer the outcome. Moderator analyses showed that alliance–outcome associations did not differ for couple versus family therapy, but correlations were significantly stronger in samples with younger problem children, older adults, proportionally more male youth and adults, and when the families voluntarily sought help (as compared to involuntary or mandated families). The chapter concludes with research-informed strategies for building and sustaining strong alliances in CFT.

Keywords: couple therapy; family therapy; systemic therapy; working alliance; therapeutic alliance; psychotherapy relationship

Chapter.  21527 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Adult Psychology

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