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Client and therapist attachment styles and working alliance

14 September 2017

Working alliance has been shown to be important in influencing the outcome of therapy... Dr Sandra Bucci at the 2017 Attachment & the Arts conference



Working alliance has been shown to be important in influencing the outcome of therapy. Research has typically focused on client’s attachment style and its impact on factors such as outcome and therapeutic alliance. However, evidence suggests that characteristics of both clients and therapists impact on the development of working alliance. Although attachment theory is well researched, there is relatively limited research on the relationship between both therapist and client attachment style and the working alliance.

Dr Bucci will discuss a study that examined the extent to which both client and therapist selfreported attachment styles are related to working alliance. Findings from our group showed that client and therapist attachment security was not independently related to working alliance, but an association between therapist insecure attachment and alliance in more symptomatic clients was found. There was also some evidence that therapists and clients with oppositional attachment styles reported more favourable alliances. The study suggests that the relationship between therapist attachment style and alliance is not straightforward. It is likely that the complexity of clients’ presenting problems, coupled with interaction between client–therapist attachment styles, influences the therapeutic alliance. Finally, Dr Bucci will summarise proposed candidate mechanisms thought to be involved in the development and maintenance of psychosis more broadly, including the role of early adversity, dissociation and disorganised attachment more specifically. 

Dr Sandra Bucci will present at the Attachment & the Arts conference on 6th October 2017

Dr SANDRA BUCCI completed her psychology training in Australia. After starting out in a research assistant post working in the area of psychosis and substance misuse, she completed her clinical training (2006) and worked as a full-time practicing Clinical Psychologist at an Early Intervention for psychosis service in Newcastle, Australia. She moved to Manchester, UK in 2007.

Alongside her academic role, she continued to work clinically as a trial therapist on the MRC-funded COMMAND trial. After a period of maternity leave, she secured MRC funding to develop a programme of research around innovative methods for treatment delivery in psychosis and collaborate with a number of other research groups across Divisions to facilitate this work. She was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2014 and has an active programme of research and teaching duties.

In addition, she is the Social Responsibility Lead for the Division of Psychology and Mental Health and lead on the ATHENA SWAN charter for the Division. Her social responsibility activities extend to setting up a Community Interest Company with colleagues at Manchester aimed at making mobile health solutions to self-management in mental health to the NHS and public sector more widely available.


For more information and booking please click here
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