Therapist–client agreement about their working alliance: Associations with attachment styles.

Recent research on attachment in therapy indicates that therapist attachment style is related to therapists’ agreement with their clients on the quality of their working alliance (WA; Kivlighan & Marmarosh, 2016). This study builds on these findings by examining how both the therapist’s and the client’s attachment style may be related to their agreement on the WA. The authors expected that less anxious and less avoidant clients working with less anxious and less avoidant therapists would have higher WA agreement. Using hierarchical linear modeling, they analyzed archival session data from 158 clients and 27 therapists at a community clinic. In terms of overall level agreement (averaged across sessions), therapists and clients significantly disagreed on their WA ratings, with therapists rating the WA lower than did their clients; but there was more therapist–client level-agreement when therapists had relatively less attachment avoidance. In terms of (linear) WA agreement from session to session, the authors found no main effects for either therapist or client attachment style alone, but several significant interactions between therapist and client attachment styles. Session-to-session agreement on the WA was higher when clients and therapist had “matching” (both higher or both lower in attachment anxiety or attachment avoidance) or “complementary” (one higher in attachment avoidance, the other lower in attachment anxiety, or one higher in attachment anxiety, the other lower in attachment avoidance) attachment styles than when styles were noncomplementary. The authors discuss these findings in terms of the attachment-related communication, signaling, and behavior that may be occurring in therapy dyads. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)