The transfer of cases is common in the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). This is especially true in training clinics, where student interns regularly graduate and transfer their cases to students still in the program. Although some research has examined the effect of transferring cases of individual psychotherapy on the success of therapy outcome, little research has examined transfer cases in MFT settings. The transfer process can be conceptualized as a rupture in the therapeutic alliance. From this perspective, a strong therapeutic alliance may mitigate the negative impact of the rupture. Consequently, it was hypothesized that a strong therapeutic alliance with the initial therapist would predict a successful transfer process. Similarly, it was hypothesized that a strong therapeutic alliance with the new therapist would predict a successful transfer process. To test these hypotheses, data were examined from 49 individual, couple, and family therapy cases that experienced a transfer at an MFT training program at a university in the northeastern part of the United States. Results indicated that the therapeutic alliance with neither the initial or new therapist predicted successful therapy transfer. A possible explanation for the lack of significant results may be the small sample size, which limited the statistical power of the analyses. In addition, because of the small sample size, the individual, couple, and family cases were combined in the analyses. Because the therapeutic alliance in couple and family cases has different dimensions than it does in individual cases, it is possible that the true effect of the therapeutic alliance on transfer success was masked in the combined analysis.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


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therapeutic alliance, dropout, transfer, marriage and family therapy