Reflective Functioning as Predictor of Working Alliance and Outcome in the Treatment of Depression
2016 (English)In: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, ISSN 0022-006X, E-ISSN 1939-2117, Vol. 84, no 1, 67-78 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Aims: Although considerable attention has been paid to the concept of mentalization in psychotherapy, there is little research on mentalization as predictor of psychotherapy process and outcome. Using data from a randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy for depression, we studied mentalization in 85 outpatients with major depressive disorder (MDD) according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was hypothesized that patients showing lower capacity for mentalization would experience poorer quality of alliance and worse outcome. Method: Depressive symptoms were measured each session using the Beck Depression Inventory-II. Mentalization was measured as reflective functioning (RF) on a slightly shortened version of the Adult Attachment Interview. A measure of depression-specific reflective functioning (DSRF), measuring mentalization about depressive symptoms, was also used. The Working Alliance Inventory-Short Form Revised was completed after each session by both therapist and patient. Longitudinal multilevel modeling was used to analyze data. Results: The patients had on average very low RF (M = 2.62, SD = 1.22). Lower pretreatment RF/DSRF predicted significantly lower therapist-rated working alliance during treatment. RF did not affect patient-rated alliance, but lower DSRF predicted lower patient-rated alliance across treatment. Patients with higher RF/DSRF had better outcomes on self-rated depression. Conclusions: The findings showed lower than normal capacity for mentalization in patients with MDD. Lower RF/DSRF predicted worse treatment outcome. More research is needed to understand how RF affects psychotherapy response and how RF is affected after recovery from depression.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 84, no 1, 67-78 p.
psychotherapy process, mentalization, reflective functioning, working alliance, major depression
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-274912DOI: 10.1037/ccp0000055ISI: 000367426900006PubMedID: 26594944OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-274912DiVA: diva2:898201
FunderForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare