Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Lisa Scharff


Over the past decade, researchers have focused attention on the therapeutic alliance (TA) and its impact in treatment outcomes. The literature on TA has been focused primarily on its impact on the client’s participation, the accomplishment of goals, and treatment completion. However, very little of this research includes individuals who have psychopathy. Therefore, the purpose of this quantitative survey study was to explore the relation between the level of psychopathy (high versus low) and TA ratings of 16 therapists and 64 clients in the population of convicted civilly-confined male sex offenders. Bordin’s theory grounded the study. Data were gathered from client and therapist surveys that were distributed to prospective groups in a civilly-confined client treatment setting in Upstate New York. Collected data were analyzed using an independent sample t-test. Results revealed no statistically significant difference between the ratings of TA generated by clients with low and high levels of psychopathy, nor was there a measurable difference between how clients with high and low levels of psychopathy perceived the agreement on treatment goals, collaboration on tasks, and the overall bond they shared with their therapist. The lack of a significant relationship between psychopathy level and TA held regardless of whether the client or therapist rated the TA. The findings of this study inform mental health care professionals in the development of more effective treatment plans and therapist training, by aiding in the breakdown of stigmas surrounding this population and assisting with their eventual reintegration into society.