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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Therapeutic alliance, Social work education-Michigan-Detroit-Evaluation, Social workers-Training of, Psychotherapists-Training of, Wayne State University. School of Social Work-Students, Working Alliance Inventory, MSW education, Educational policy, Common factors


The therapeutic alliance, or the purpose-oriented collaboration between therapist and client, has been described as essential for effective psychotherapeutic treatment. Prior research indicates that establishing and maintaining an alliance requires specific clinical skills. A limited number of studies have shown that skills which facilitate the alliance may be taught to mental health professionals. The current study compared social work graduate students and recent graduates of Wayne State University School of Social Work (N=80) in their self-assessment of competency in establishing and maintaining a therapeutic alliance. The goal was to investigate whether graduates, who have completed their education, rated themselves as more competent. No statistically significant differences were found between current students and recent graduates. Additionally, an educational questionnaire was used to explore correlations between specific experiences in classroom and field instruction as well as participant personal attributes and therapeutic alliance scores. Several educational experiences, including learning to manage client hostility, seek feedback, and provide a rationale for treatment, served as the best predictors for higher therapeutic alliance scores. Implications for social work educational policy and suggestions for future research using more sensitive measures are offered




v, 113 pages. Dissertation (Ph.D.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 95-101)