HOW A RETURN TO THEORY COULD HELP ALLIANCE RESEARCH


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Abstract

This report aims to clarify alliance theory and extend its role in psychotherapy research. Bordin's (1979) alliance theory concerns the nature and quality of participants' collaborative, purposive work. Alliance is actualized in therapist techniques, client participation, and the dyad's relational features. Alliance is a property of all components of therapy, a concept superordinate to these components and not a component itself. Viewing technique and alliance as equivalent components of therapy confuses 2 levels of thinking, as does conflating alliance with the overall therapy relationship. Examples from contemporary research reports illustrate these points. The logic of alliance measures is clarified, as are the limits of measures' ability to capture key features of collaborative work. This approach opens new avenues for alliance research.

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