Therapeutic Alliance in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Children with Autism
Albaum, Carly Sarah
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This study aimed to determine child pre-treatment variables, therapist behaviours and treatment outcomes associated with early and late therapeutic alliance in cognitive behaviour therapy for children with autism. Data were collected from 48 children with autism (91.7% male) who demonstrated average verbal IQ. Therapists included 22 post-doctoral fellows or graduate trainees (90.9% female). Therapeutic alliance and therapist behaviours were measured using observational coding of early and late sessions. Pre-treatment and outcome measures included multiple informant reports of child emotional and behavioural functioning. Results indicate some relation between emotion regulation and symptom severity, and the quality of alliance. Early therapist behaviours were associated with late therapeutic bond. Pushing the child to talk early on predicted later task-collaboration. Early therapeutic alliance did not predict treatment change. Late task-collaboration predicted improvements in emotion regulation. Future research should further examine the role of task-collaboration as a mechanism of treatment change for children with autism.