Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Therapist's Experience in Family Therapy

Article Excerpt:

"A consistent finding in psychotherapy research is that the quality of the therapeutic alliance is one of the best predictors of psychotherapy outcome (e.g. Bachelor and Horvath, 1999; Martin et al., 2000; Orlinsky et al., 2004): ‘Positive therapeutic outcomes are robustly predicted when therapists are experienced as being personally engaged rather than detached, collaborative rather than directive, empathic, and warmly affirming’ (Orlinsky and Ronnestad, 2005, p.179). This seems to be true for psychotherapy in general, and for family therapy in particular (Blow et al., 2007; Carr, 2005; Sprenkle and Blow, 2004).

The question I want to pose in this article, however, is how therapists should deal with strong emotions which they might experience during sessions, especially if at first sight these emotions do not seem to contribute to a positive working alliance. What should therapists do when they experience emotions such as irritation, hopelessness, sadness and fear during the session?

I will propose some ideas that address these questions. They deal with the complexity of the therapists’ experiencing and their vulnerability during sessions, in such a way that some of the therapists’ difficult or ambivalent experiences in therapy can become useful in promoting a collaborative therapeutic dialogue."

Rober, P. (2010) The therapist's experiencing in family therapy practice. Journal of Family Therapy, 1-23.


The therapeutic alliance that predicts positive therapeutic outcomes sounds a lot like the dance of attachment. 

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