Dropout from cognitive behavioural treatment in a case of bulimia nervosa: The role of the therapeutic alliance


Despite the refinement of the cognitive treatment for eating disorders, relatively high dropout rates represent a major problem for therapists and researchers. This study investigated the case of a patient with a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa, who dropped out of outpatient CBT after 28 weekly sessions. In addition to standard clinical outcome assessment, we examined how patient's psychological functioning and therapeutic alliance changed across sessions by applying observer-rating scales to the therapy transcripts. Although the patient reported some improvement at the six-month retest, observer ratings showed persistence of impaired functioning and frequent ruptures in the patient-therapist relationship throughout the treatment. We concluded that a thorough examination of the therapy process might help to understand the factors that lead to premature treatment termination.


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eating disorders, dropout, multistep cognitive behavior therapy, process research, therapeutic alliance
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How to Cite
Sarracino, D., Garavaglia, A., Gritti, E., Parolin, L., & Innamorati, M. (2014). Dropout from cognitive behavioural treatment in a case of bulimia nervosa: The role of the therapeutic alliance. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 16(2), 71-84. https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2013.138