Health care providers and patients work together in structured sessions to alleviate the patient’s problems, an interaction known as the therapeutic alliance.1 This alliance is important to maintain as the behavioral health field implements more technology and different treatment delivery systems. Research has shown growing evidence that internet-based treatments often result in similar outcomes as conventional face-to-face interventions, leading researchers to conclude that future studies will identify unique characteristics of the therapeutic alliance across different treatment formats.2
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Research has demonstrated that the quality of the relationship between provider and patient, the therapeutic alliance, is a better predictor of whether an intervention works than the particular brand of intervention itself.
Some theories identify the therapeutic alliance as the agreement of goals and assignment of tasks in addition to the development of a bond between provider and patient.
Scales used to measure the therapeutic alliance have found that the patient’s core view of the alliance consists of being confident in and committed to a process that feels promising and helpful, and that there is a correlation between strong therapeutic alliances and outcomes.
Studies have shown that the ability to form quality relationships and therapeutic alliances via telehealth will continue to eliminate barriers for individuals without access to face-to-face treatment, as it has been demonstrated that therapeutic alliances can develop in both methods of treatment.
Studies have shown that the average effect of the therapeutic alliance on intervention outcomes is greater than the effects of other variables, including a provider’s adherence to the treatment manual or provider competence.