Relating Therapist Characteristics to Client Engagement and the Therapeutic Alliance in an Adolescent Custodial Group Substance Misuse Treatment Program

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Client engagement in substance misuse treatment programs is directly associated with positive treatment outcomes. The nature of these programs means there are often difficulties engaging and retaining clients, but authors have consistently found a strong therapeutic alliance is associated with client engagement. While research has focused on the association between the alliance and engagement, the factors that influence the therapeutic alliance have received less attention.
Objective: To examine therapists’ characteristics, namely therapists’ stress and empathy levels, as potential predictors of client engagement and the therapeutic alliance, within an adolescent substance misuse group treatment program.
Method: The sample included 84 adolescent clients and 14 therapists from a Secure Training Centre in England. Client engagement in the treatment program was observed, while self-reporting measures assessed the therapeutic alliance (client and therapist-rated), and therapists’ stress and empathy levels.
Results: Multiple regression analysis revealed that therapists’ stress levels negatively influenced the therapeutic alliance and had a curvilinear relationship with client engagement, indicating that stress is not exclusively negatively related to engagement. Although stress was found to negatively impact both cognitive and affective empathy, neither cognitive nor affective empathy were significantly related to client engagement or the therapeutic alliance.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates the importance of therapist characteristics on client engagement and the TA. Within practice stress can have a positive impact on clients’ engagement. Nevertheless, therapists may need additional support to deal with stress effectively. Therapists’ empathy may too be fundamental to client engagement, but only it if is perceived by clients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1144
Number of pages12
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Volume52
Issue number9
Early online date30 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Client Engagement
  • Adolescent
  • Substance Misuse Treatment
  • Alliance

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Relating Therapist Characteristics to Client Engagement and the Therapeutic Alliance in an Adolescent Custodial Group Substance Misuse Treatment Program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this