Rules of engagement: Qualitative experiences of therapeutic alliance when receiving in-patient treatment for anorexia nervosa

Richard Sly, John F. Morgan, Victoria A. Mountford, Francesca Sawer, Charlotte Evans, J. Hubert Lacey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has emphasised the importance of therapeutic alliance to treatment outcomes for anorexia nervosa. This study aimed to examine the experiences of service users in developing therapeutic alliance whilst in treatment for their eating disorders. This qualitative study, using purposive sampling, recruited a sample of service users receiving treatment at a national eating disorders service. In-depth interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, with transcriptions being subject to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Participants were eight adult women receiving tertiary level eating disorder treatment in a specialist setting. The text analysis produced four dominant categories: alliance as a key experience; being active, not passive; taboo talking; and first impressions count. The development of therapeutic alliance is a core component of treatment. This study identifies important areas that contribute to the successful cultivation of positive therapeutic alliance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-243
Number of pages11
JournalEating Disorders
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2014

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