Nina Polyné


Adults who have a history of potentially traumatic events (confrontation with actual or threatened death, serious injury, or a threat to a person’s physical integrity) in childhood may be at risk for a less established and less strong early working alliance, defined as an agreement between therapist and client on therapy goals, tasks and bond. The aim of this dissertation was to examine whether a sample of adult client-participants who presented with a self-reported history of the potentially traumatic events of childhood sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse experiences (referred to as the “childhood trauma only group”) reported differences in regard to their perceptions of their early working alliance with their therapists than a sample of adult psychotherapy client-participants who did not report such childhood experiences (“non childhood trauma group”). Quantitative data analyses examined archival Working Alliance Inventories completed by client-participants during initial psychotherapy sessions at a local community based clinic. Contrary to the study’s hypothesis, results did not show a significant difference in working alliance scores between the “childhood trauma only group” as compared to the “non-childhood trauma group.” Instead, both client groups endorsed strong early working alliance scores. These results extend existing research showing that individuals with childhood trauma histories are capable of forming strong therapeutic alliances with their therapists, which have been shown to be influential in treatment outcome.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Therapeutic alliance -- Case studies; Adult child abuse victims -- Psychology

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hall, Susan;