Therapeutic Alliance in Couple and Family Therapy: Therapist Experiences and Perspectives on Multidirected Partiality

by Hanna Watkins

Institution: University of Guelph
Year: 2014
Keywords: therapeutic alliance ; multidirected partiality ; couple and family therapy ; therapist perspectives
Record ID: 2043966
Full text PDF: https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/handle/10214/8356


The therapeutic alliance in couple and family therapy (CFT) is not only different from that in individual psychotherapy, but is highly complex, interactional and multidimensional. Given the unique challenges when working relationally, research on building and maintaining multiple simultaneous alliances is important to undertake. The current study adopts a qualitative research design to capture therapists’ perceptions and understandings of how they develop balanced and multi-partial therapeutic alliances with couples and families and the strategies they use to do so. Eighteen therapists from a variety of disciplines participated in an online, open-ended questionnaire. Thematic analysis was used in the analysis of their responses. Findings highlight how therapists understand the therapeutic alliance when working relationally, the ways the alliance is intentionally created and maintained, as well as the importance of ensuring balance and multidirected partiality. Limitations of the study and implications for both experienced and novice therapists working with families are discussed.