The association between the working alliance with adolescent girls in residential care and their trauma-related symptoms in emerging adulthood



*Ayotte M-H, Lanctôt N, Tourigny M. (2017). The Association Between the Working Alliance with Adolescent Girls in Residential Care and Their Trauma-Related Symptoms in Emerging Adulthood. Child & Youth Care Forum. 46(4): 601-620.


Until now, the relations between the working alliance and trauma-related symptoms have received little or no study in residential-care settings. However, considering the high prevalence of past experiences of interpersonal trauma among young people in residential centers, it is essential to examine this issue more closely. This study aimed to determine to what extent the strength of the working alliance, as reported by adolescent girls in residential centers and their counselors, is associated with the trauma-related symptoms that these girls reported subsequently, in emerging adulthood. The sample consisted of 130 adolescent girls placed in residential center. Trauma-related symptoms were measured at intake and approximately 4 years later, when all the girls were out of the center. Working alliance was measured 3 months after the start of the placement. Hierarchical multiple regressions were performed to determine the strength of the relationships between the working alliance during treatment and trauma-related symptoms in emerging adulthood. Findings showed that even after controlling for intake symptoms, the strength of the working alliance reported by the girls has modest, yet significant, negative associations with several trauma-related symptoms in emerging adulthood. The stronger the alliance the girls reported, the less they reported symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress and externalization. Results suggest that a strong working alliance with adolescent girls may contribute to their recovery as it was associated with less trauma-related symptoms. Further research is needed to investigate the mechanisms and underlying factors explaining this relationship at short, medium and long term.