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Stenius, J. Heinonen, E. Antikainen, R. Knekt, P. Holma, J. Lindfors, O. (2021). Predicting the Working Alliance over the Course of Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy with the Rorschach Ego Impairment Index, Self-Reported Defense Style, and Performance-Based Intelligence: An Evaluation of Three Methodological Approaches. Psychoanal. Psychol., 38(1):58-67.

(2021). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 38(1):58-67

Predicting the Working Alliance over the Course of Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy with the Rorschach Ego Impairment Index, Self-Reported Defense Style, and Performance-Based Intelligence: An Evaluation of Three Methodological Approaches

Jaakko Stenius, M.A., Erkki Heinonen, Ph.D., Risto Antikainen, Ph.D., Paul Knekt, Ph.D., Juha Holma, Ph.D. and Olavi Lindfors, Ph.D.

Better therapeutic alliances are known to predict better treatment outcomes, but little knowledge still exists on the patient characteristics that lead to better alliances. In a sample of 128 outpatients assigned to long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy and suffering from mood and/or anxiety disorder, this study evaluated how the alliance, measured using the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI), is predicted by three different measures for assessing psychological resources and vulnerabilities: the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Revised (WAIS-R), the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ), and the Rorschach-based Ego Impairment Index (EII-2). All the three measures showed some ability to predict the development of the alliance during long-term therapy. The WAIS-R was found to be the strongest independent predictor, with higher intelligence scores predicting favorable development of both the patient- and therapist-rated alliance. Lower DSQ values, indicating less use of immature defenses, predicted greater improvement in the patient- but not the therapist-rated alliance. Higher EII-2 values, indicating more problematic ego functioning, predicted likewise greater patient-rated alliance improvement over the course of treatment. These findings support the value of pretreatment multimethod psychological assessment when tailoring treatment to the individual needs of patients.

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