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Therapeutic alliance in videoconferencing psychotherapy: A review

Simpson, S.G. and Reid, C.L. (2014) Therapeutic alliance in videoconferencing psychotherapy: A review. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 22 (6). pp. 280-299.

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Psychotherapy services are limited in remote and rural areas in Australia and across the globe. Videoconferencing has become well established as a feasible and acceptable mode of psychological treatment delivery. Therapeutic alliance (TA) is an essential factor underlying successful therapy across therapeutic models. In order to determine the state of knowledge regarding TA in psychotherapy via videoconferencing, a literature review was conducted on research studies that formally measured TA as primary, secondary or tertiary outcome measures over the past 23 years. The databases searched were Medline, PsycArticles, PsycINFO, PsycEXTRA and EMBASE. Searching identified 9915 articles that measured satisfaction, acceptability or therapeutic rapport, of which 23 met criteria for the review. Three studies were carried out in Australia, 11 in USA, 4 in Canada, 3 in Scotland and 2 in England. Studies overwhelmingly supported the notion that TA can be developed in psychotherapy by videoconference, with clients rating bond and presence at least equally as strongly as in-person settings across a range of diagnostic groups. Therapists also rated high levels of TA, but often not quite as high as that of their clients early in treatment. The evidence was examined in the context of important aspects of TA, including bond, presence, therapist attitudes and abilities, and client attitudes and beliefs. Barriers and facilitators of alliance were identified. Future studies should include observational measures of bond and presence to supplement self-report.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Copyright: © 2014 National Rural Health Alliance Inc
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