Hillary Litwin, MA
The Segmented Working Alliance Inventory (S-WAI-O, Berk, Safran, Muran, & Eubanks-Carter, 2010) is an observational measure that was designed to identify in-session alliance ruptures and their repair. The S-WAI-O tracks the alliance by five-minute segments and provides an overview of how the alliance changes across session. Examining changes in the quality of the therapeutic alliance over the course of a session may help us to identify specific therapeutic processes that take place during ruptures and rupture repair. We are particularly interested in therapeutic processes that concern discussions of race. However, given that this measure was validated using a sample of White American therapists and patients, it is our aim to adapt the S-WAI-O for intercultural therapy dyads; particularly, the White therapist-Black client dyad. Within this context, the White therapist-Black client dyad is of particular interest, given the high levels of client cultural mistrust and preference for same-race clinicians, cultural ruptures and misattunements, racial microinvalidations, racial anxiety, and cultural differences in communication styles and relational norms – leading to poor alliance and treatment outcomes/higher dropout rates.
This overall goal of this study is to make a contribution to the field by developing an alliance measure that is attuned to the complexities of relational dynamics in cross-racial therapy. Furthermore, examining culture-based relational disconnections is one way to promote multicultural and social justice counseling competencies, which may help improve treatment outcomes.
Hillary Litwin, M.A. (project director & principal investigator), Sophia Williams, M.A. (co-investigator), Stacy Crawford, B.A., Vivian Dzokoto, Ph.D. (collaborator; Virginia Commonwealth University), Doris Chang, Ph.D. (principal investigator).
Sophia Williams, MA