Although the alliance is a consistent predictor of treatment outcomes in psychosocial interventions, few studies have examined this association among youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In particular, youth-therapist alliance has never been examined in social skills interventions (SSIs), a common modality for this population. In this study, thirty-four youth with ASD (Mage = 12.41; 79% male) participated in a community-delivered, group-based SSI in a summer camp format led by eight Head Therapists (Mage = 32.12; 50% male). Early alliance and change in alliance over the course of the treatment were assessed via self- and observer-reported measures. Both self- and observer-rated alliance were associated with positive treatment outcomes as reported by parents (decreased problem behaviors) and other peers in the group (reciprocated friendship and social preference). These results provide the first evidence of the role of the alliance in an SSI for youth with ASD and add to the growing body of literature that demonstrates the importance of assessing and addressing the alliance in treatment for this population.
- autism spectrum disorder
- social skills interventions