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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Therapeutic alliance, Parents of mentally ill children, Child psychotherapy, Child psychotherapy-Parent participation, Families, Parents, Rupture


The purpose of this longitudinal, qualitative study was to explore parents' descriptions of the parent-therapist alliance in child psychotherapy. Seventeen parents of latency-aged children involved in psychodynamically-oriented parent guidance completed semi-structured interviews exploring the parent-therapist alliance, and thirteen completed 18-24 month follow-up interviews. Themes from initial interviews illuminated positive aspects of the parent-therapist alliance as well as problems on the horizon. In the follow-ups parents were sub-categorized as those with successful versus unsuccessful parent-therapist alliances. Those with successful alliances resolved problems and spoke positively of the alliance. Those with unsuccessful alliances recalled general dissatisfaction and difficulties overcoming problems. Meta-themes derived from followups included positive aspects of the alliance (discussed primarily by the successful alliance group), unresolved issues (discussed by both groups), and termination comments. Notably, some –problems on the horizon– evolved into alliance-threatening ruptures for those with unsuccessful alliances, while being transformed into alliance strengths for those with successful alliances.




iii, 134 p. Dissertation (Ph.D.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 116-121)