Relational variables in short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: an effectiveness study

  • Annalisa Tanzilli | annalisa.tanzilli@uniroma1.it Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
  • Michele Majorana Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
  • Laura Fonzi Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
  • Mauro Pallagrosi Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
  • Angelo Picardi Centre of Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.
  • Maria Antonietta Coccanari de’ Fornari Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
  • Massimo Biondi Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
  • Vittorio Lingiardi Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.

Abstract

This study examined associations between specific elements of therapeutic relationships and short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP) outcomes. Notably, we focused on therapists’ subjective experiences during their first clinical interaction with patients, countertransference patterns and therapeutic alliance evaluated early in treatment, in relation to patient symptom changes at the end of STPP. Twenty clinicians completed the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale to evaluate patients’ (N=32) symptom severity at the beginning and end of STPP. They also completed the Assessment of Clinicians’ Subjective Experience (ACSE) to assess their subjective experiences of their patients at the first clinical interview and the Therapist Response Questionnaire (TRQ) and Working Alliance Inventory to evaluate their countertransference reactions and therapeutic alliance at the sixth therapy session. The findings showed that the TRQ and ACSE scales correlated in a coherent way, with the exception of the TRQ helpless/inadequate pattern and ACSE impotence. Strong and more negative TRQ countertransference patterns and ACSE dimensions were significantly associated with lower quality of the therapeutic alliance. Finally, better STPP outcomes were positively associated with a good therapeutic alliance and negatively correlated with greater difficulty in attunement at the beginning of clinical assessment and therapists’ stronger responses of helplessness, frustration, and disengagement during therapy. These results confirm the precious value of the clinical relationship, which represents a useful source of information for therapists when planning therapeutic interventions.

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Published
2018-12-18
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Keywords:
short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, therapeutic alliance, outcome, countertransference, subjective experience
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How to Cite
Tanzilli, A., Majorana, M., Fonzi, L., Pallagrosi, M., Picardi, A., Coccanari de’ Fornari, M. A., Biondi, M., & Lingiardi, V. (2018). Relational variables in short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: an effectiveness study. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 21(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2018.327