Background: Home visiting programs are effective in improving maternal-child health, and higher therapeutic alliance is associated with improved program retention and outcomes. Black, single, low-income mothers have a higher risk for poorer health outcomes in pregnancy and postpartum and for early termination of therapeutic services. Objective: To examine associations between clinician and client alliance and social, economic, and racial demographics. Methods: Mothers (N = 71) who were pregnant or had an infant (age < 24 m) receiving Infant Mental Health (IMH) services through community health service agencies and their clinicians (N = 50) completed the Scale to Assess Therapeutic Relationships (clinicians: STAR-C, clients: STAR-P) at 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12 months, and provided demographic information. Results: Survival analysis showed those with higher alliance ratings, both client and clinician ratings, at the 3-month time-point were more likely to remain in treatment longer (for clients est = -1.67, p =.0017; for clinician est = -.75, p =.031). Controlling for clinician experience and frequency of reflective supervision, Black clinicians had higher alliance ratings than white clinicians, (b = 3.1 (1.6), p =.049). Neither clinician-client racial match nor client marital status predicted alliance. Black clinicians’ ratings of alliance did not vary by client race, but white clinicians reported weaker alliance with their Black, relative to white, clients (β =.40, p =.045). Conclusions: Weaker alliance reported by white clinicians with Black clients, coupled with a lack of client-race related differences for Black clinicians, suggests white clinician racial bias may be important to consider in regards to program retention and health disparities.
- Infant Mental Health Home Visiting Program
- Therapeutic alliance