The association of attachment, object relations, and interpersonal functioning with the working alliance in college counseling

Jeffery Taylor Dyke, Fordham University


The association of client pretreatment relational characteristics with the strength of the early working alliance in college counseling was investigated in this study. Ninety participants solicited from a private, urban, university counseling center were rated on the following measures prior to their first interview with a counselor: the Adult Attachment Scale; the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-Circumplex; the Krohn and Mayman Object Representation Scale; and the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale. After completing a two-session intake, the participants completed the Working Alliance Inventory, Client form. Therapists also independently rated the alliance with a parallel form at this time. Results showed that the association of the pretreatment client relational characteristics with the working alliance differed depending on which perspective of the alliance was adopted as a dependent variable. Client-rated alliance was positively correlated with an aspect of attachment involving the capacity to tolerate intimacy and closeness with others. No aspects of attachment were associated with the therapist-rated alliance. Additionally, client-rated alliance was positively correlated with the tendency to manifest interpersonal problems involving excessive closeness, and inversely related to interpersonal problems involving coldness, hostility, and the tendency to distance others. It was not associated with the overall severity of interpersonal problems or the quality of object relations. Therapist-rated alliance was positively correlated with the quality of object relations and negatively correlated with the severity of interpersonal problems, although it was not associated with any specific interpersonal problem type. It was also positively associated with global assessment of functioning, a measure involving both symptom severity and role functioning. This study demonstrated that clients' capacity to tolerate closeness with others was the exclusive characteristic associated with their experience of the working alliance. In contrast, the therapists' experience of the alliance was related to the degree of relational health exhibited by the clients across a broad array of constructs. Furthermore, there was no convergence between client and therapist alliance scores.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Dyke, Jeffery Taylor, "The association of attachment, object relations, and interpersonal functioning with the working alliance in college counseling" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9628333.