Therapeutic alliance, cultural competence and minority status in premature termination of psychotherapy.

Kristin N. Anderson, Chandra L. Bautista, Debra A. Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Premature termination is a pervasive barrier to effective implementation of outpatient psychotherapy that frequently results in poorer outcomes for clients as well as poor resource allocation for clients, therapists, and society. Despite its high prevalence and cost, premature termination remains poorly understood, especially from the clients' perspective. The current study addressed some gaps in the literature using a national online survey design that permitted investigation of a broad range of potential predictors of premature termination. Participants were 278 respondents from's Mechanical Turk who completed an online survey about their treatment history, their most recent outpatient therapy experience and therapist, termination status, reasons for terminating prematurely (if applicable), treatment satisfaction, and demographics. Results indicated that being a woman, identifying as a sexual minority, and having a therapist low in perceived multicultural competence were associated with increased risk of premature termination. However, the best predictors of premature termination were a weak therapeutic alliance and symptoms of depression. These results support previous research that shows both client and therapist variables contribute to premature termination. Potential interventions that can be implemented by providers or agencies to reduce premature termination are discussed, along with limitations of the study and recommendations for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-114
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • predictors
  • premature termination
  • psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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