The therapeutic alliance is the quality of the relationship between a therapist and client over time. It’s well known that a positive therapeutic relationship can go a long way toward progress and sustained change in a client. In fact, research has shown that the quality of the relationship between a therapist and client is the biggest predictor of successful treatment.
Therapeutic alliance can be especially valuable to clients who have had difficult or dysfunctional relationships or experienced trauma in their early years, leading them to find it difficult to form healthy relationships in adulthood.
If a therapeutic relationship is well-formed, it can help the client learn what a trusting relationship feels like, something they may not have experienced before. This, in turn, allows for sharing of innermost fears and concerns with someone who is impartial and wants the best for them. It also allows them to be their authentic self without having to impress or please someone – which is important for recovery and change.
A good therapeutic relationship consists of three essential components:
The simple fact is that the ways in which a therapist and client engage play a crucial role in defining the success of therapy. When the therapist creates a safe and supportive environment, the client can begin to move towards greater self-awareness and lasting change. This joint collaborative learning experience can make therapy very rewarding for both the client and the therapist.
Therapists make important contributions to the establishment of a good therapeutic relationship through the characteristics:
A non-judgmental attitude – For a therapeutic relationship to grow, it’s important for the therapist to not only be trustworthy and credible but also nonjudgmental and compassionate. This allows the client to open up emotionally in a way they might have been struggling to do.
Genuineness – For a client to trust their therapist, it’s also important that the therapist be a ‘real’ human being and authentic in the way they relate to the client – this in turn helps the client to communicate authentically in the therapeutic space.
Empathy – This is the foundation and building block for a therapeutic relationship because it allows the client to feel seen, heard, and understood by the therapist.
Lastly, when the therapist models openness, flexibility, and healthy boundary setting, it helps the client understand what healthy relating is and try these new ways of relating in a safe space.
About Author –
Sarika Pandit –
Psychotherapist, Advanced level in REBT, AEI, NY
Sarika Pandit has completed her MBA and worked for 15 years in the corporate world with organizations such as Unilever, Nielsen and L’Oreal, before opting to pursue counseling. She has also completed MA in Counselling Psychology, and PG Diploma in Counseling (TISS). She has trained in Advanced level in REBT with the Albert Ellis Institute, New York and in Single Session Therapy (SST). She is the Co-founder of an NGO that works in the area of creating safer spaces for children and adults.