Client Attachment and the Working Alliance: A Developmental Conceptualization

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William J. Lyddon

Advisor Department



This study examined the relation between clients' personal models of attachment and client ratings of the working alliance following three and six counseling sessions. It was hypothesized that individuals who exhibited secure models of attachment would rate the working alliance in more favorable terms than those individuals with more insecure models of attachment. Partial support for this hypothesis was found following the third counseling session. In particular, clients who feel they can depend on others to be available when needed were more likely to rate their personal emotional attachment (or bond) to their counselor in more favorable terms following the third counseling session. Conversely, clients who hold negative views of their self-worth with regard to relationships rated various aspects of the working alliance in less favorable terms. These results were not seen at the sixth counseling session. Implications of these findings for counseling practice and future research are discussed.