PURPOSE: The helping alliance (HA) between patient and therapist has been studied in detail in psychotherapy research, but less is known about the HA in long-term community mental health care. The aim of this study was to identify typical courses of the HA and their predictors in a sample of people with severe mental illness across Europe over a measurement period of one year.
METHODS: Self-ratings of the HA by 588 people with severe mental illness who participated in a multicentre European study (CEDAR; ISRCTN75841675) were examined using latent class analysis.
RESULTS: Four main patterns of alliance were identified: (1) high and stable (HS, 45.6 %), (2) high and increasing (HI, 36.9 %), (3) high and decreasing (HD, 11.3 %) and (4) low and increasing (LI, 6.1 %). Predictors of class membership were duration of illness, ethnicity, and education, receipt of state benefits, recovery, and quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS: Results support findings from psychotherapy research about a predominantly stable course of the helping alliance in patients with severe mental illness over time. Implications for research and practice indicate to turn the attention to subgroups with noticeable courses.