Alliance and Suicide Prevention Lab

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Linking Pretreatment Therapist Characteristics to the Therapeutic Alliance in Youth Treatment : An Examination of Professional Burnout, Counseling Self-efficacy and Gender Role Orientation

By Jessica Handelsman, Ph.D.

A Masters Thesis Defended 2007

Project Overview

The present study investigated three pretreatment therapist characteristics (professional burnout, counseling self-efficacy, and gender role orientation) in relation to the therapeutic alliance within the context of youth treatment. It was hypothesized that the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization dimensions of burnout would be negatively associated with the alliance, while the personal accomplishment dimension of burnout and counseling self-efficacy would be positively associated with the alliance. In addition, it was hypothesized that androgynous therapists would have superior alliances, relative to stereotypically masculine or feminine therapists. Participants were 42 pairs of therapists and youth clients. Prior to intake, therapists completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory -- Human Services Survey (MBI), a modified version of the Counselor Self-Efficacy Scale (CSES-M), and the Bem Sex-Role Inventory (BSRI). Clients and therapists completed parallel versions of the Child Therapy Bond Scale (CTBS) following the third session. As hypothesized, results indicated that depersonalization and personal accomplishment were significantly related, in the expected directions, to therapist ratings of the alliance. Other hypotheses were not supported. Future research directions and potential implications of these findings for professional training, service delivery, and quality management in mental health organizations are discussed.