The real relationship and its role in psychotherapy outcome: A meta-analysis.

Although writing about the real relationship has existed from the beginnings of the “talking cure,” it is only in recent years that empirical research has focused on this phenomenon. The real relationship is the personal relationship between patient and therapist marked by the extent to which each is genuine with the other and perceives/experiences the other in ways that are realistic. The strength of the real relationship is determined by both the extent to which it exists and the degree to which it is positive or favorable. In this article, a meta-analysis is presented on the association between the strength of the real relationship and the outcome of psychotherapy. Summed across 16 studies, this meta-analysis revealed a moderate association with outcome (r = .38, 95% confidence interval [.30, .44], p < .001, d = 0.80, N = 1.502). This real relationship−outcome association was independent of the type of outcome studied (treatment outcome, treatment progress, and session outcome) and of the source of the measure (whether the client or the therapist rated the real relationship and/or treatment outcome). We also present commonly used measures of the real relationship, limitations of the research, and patient contributions. The article concludes with diversity considerations and practice recommendations for developing and strengthening the real relationship. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)