Having a Strong Therapeutic Alliance
Growth and healing take a lot of strength, commitment, and willingness to sit with uncomfortable feelings. While this work is incredibly important and rewarding, it is equally as important that the person guiding you through that process is someone who you really trust and connect with.
So, what makes a good connection? Checkout the video and transcript below to learn more.
(Transcript from video below)
Hey, it's Meredith here- owner of Rooted Wellness Counseling in Boulder, Colorado!
I wanted to talk a little bit about what a strong therapeutic alliance or relationship means. As a therapist, something that I find very important in my work with clients is having a strong therapeutic alliance. What that means to me is that we have a strong connection, they feel comfortable, respected, heard, we're making progress and we both know what we're working towards. We also have the same goals in mind.
I wanted to go a little more in depth about those first four things, because I think they're really important! Oftentimes when I'm doing consultations with people or starting therapy -and they've had therapists in the past- clients have said "you know, I'm not sure what what I'm looking for in a therapist" or "I'm just hoping that they're willing to work with me". But, I always encourage people to make sure that you're working with someone that you have a strong connection with because this is truly for you.
So, four things that could tell you that you have a strong therapeutic alliance with the person you're working with or goals you can have as you begin therapy are:
Obviously, therapy and growth are not always comfortable. Yet, it is important that you feel comfortable with the person you're working with, that you don't feel like there are things you can't share or talk about because of their beliefs or how they will react. This person should be a neutral and accepting person for you to speak to and be open with, and if you feel like you're holding back or that there is some discomfort, that may mean that your therapeutic alliance is not completely strong, or that should be something you discuss.
Similarly, it's important that you never feel your beliefs, cultural values, or anything like that is challenged, disrespected, or just dismissed. If you are feeling that way, this may not be the best therapist for you and is definitely something that should be discussed if you feel comfortable to try to mend that therapeutic relationship.
I think there are therapists who interact more in session than others, and give more feedback, but bottom line is that you should feel heard and like your therapist is completely focused on you during session and is participating during the session, as well. If you feel like they're tuned out or thinking about other things or you're not getting the feedback you're looking for, that may speak to a not awesome therapeutic alliance.
Again, there are therapists and types of therapy that focus more on goals (like solution-focused therapy or problem-solving therapy) and that's not what everyone is coming to therapy for; but you shouldn't ever feel stuck for a long periods of time and therapy. If you feel like you are doing the exact same and having the same struggles now as you did when you started your therapy six months ago, that may again speak to not having the best therapeutic alliance or the best therapeutic connection.
All of these things are things that you can talk about in therapy, and it's actually really important to have open conversations if you feel like things aren't going as well as they could be. After all, that is the only way to make positive change! I totally know that is also uncomfortable and so just wanted to kind of put it out here that these are a few things you can be watching for and aware of if you are thinking about starting therapy or are already engaging in therapy and wondering if you have a strong therapeutic alliance
I hope that that was helpful and I hope that you all have a great day! I will talk to you soon.
Meredith Waller MSW, LCSW
Based in Boulder, CO and offering online counseling throughout Colorado
-Certified Shame-Informed Treatment Specialist
-Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional