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The hopeful and optimistic therapist in training: Implications for client and therapist perceptions of the therapeutic alliance

12 December 2003


This study analyzed the extent to which therapist personality characteristics, specifically dispositional hope and dispositional optimism relate to the clients' and therapists' perception of the therapeutic alliance. Hope was measured with the Hope Scale (Snyder, et al., 1991) and optimism was assessed with the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R; Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994). Twenty-seven student therapists and 104 clients rated their perceptions of the therapeutic alliance at regular intervals (every fourth session) using the Working Alliance Inventory - Short Form for Therapists and Clients (WAI-T and WAI-C; Tracey and Kokotovic, 1989). Only the therapist's sense of agency (a sub scale of the Hope Scale) was significantly and positively related to the perceptions of the alliance regarding the goals of therapy from the therapist's perspective. Therapists' optimism scores were not significantly correlated with clients' reports of the therapeutic alliance. While it was not a primary focus of the current study, it was interesting to note client and therapists' perceptions of the therapeutic alliance were significantly related along the goal and tasks dimensions of the Working Alliance, but not along the bond dimension. Despite a lack of robust findings regarding hypotheses, the present study highlights useful lessons regarding statistical analysis and research design and provides recommendations for future research regarding the perceptions of student therapists.


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