The Therapeutic Alliance

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Therapeutic Alliance

The relationship between a client and a counsellor is an important aspect of the counselling process, therefore maintaining a positive therapeutic alliance is essential. Horvath (1994) suggests that the bonding of the client and counsellor in the therapeutic alliance “grows out of their experience of association in a shared activity.” (pg 16) The client may have had a bad experience of counselling before and they have low expectations that counselling will benefit them this time round or they may have had a very good experience and come with high expectations and expect that the counsellor will be the same as their last counsellor. The bonding between the client and the counsellor comes down to a shared understanding, commitment in the counselling sessions, trust and respect for each other. The therapeutic alliance is collaboration between the client and the counsellor, a partnership that focuses on the client, their needs, and goals to improve their coping skills and to help them to help themselves, while providing them with a safe environment to explore their past and present issues without the fear of being judged or given unwarranted advice. Rodgers (1965) identified the empathic bond between the client and the counsellor as the essential therapeutic agent in therapy, whilst Bordin (1979) identified three components of the therapeutic alliance; the goal, the task and the bond. This is the partnership between the client and the counsellor; a partnership that has shared goals, recognition of tasks performed by each person and the bond that holds the relationship together. I believe that this bond starts from the first contact with a client by showing attributes of genuineness, friendliness, respect, empathy and unconditional positive regard and it is affirmed in the client-counsellor contract. The contract sets out boundaries, roles, responsibilities and expectations on the client and counsellor; it is also establishing the...
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