Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Clinical Perspective

The parent-child-therapist alliance: A case study using a strategic approach

Thirusha Naidu, Sheethal Behari


In this paper we present a single case study of a clinical approach that addresses the needs of parents and their children in psychotherapy. The approach begins by addressing the child’s and parent’s concerns separately at first by establishing strong therapeutic alliances with each, and then proceeds to address the concerns of the parent-child dyad. The basic premise is that the therapeutic alliance is the central element to successful outcomes in psychotherapy. The nature of alliance-building and its associated methods and techniques have been extensively considered for adult therapy. However, there is considerably less written on the therapeutic alliance with children and adolescents in the context of family interventions. We briefly examine some theoretical dimensions and applications of the therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy with children/adolescents and their parents. A three-phase alliance-building psychotherapy strategy, founded on the idea that each therapeutic relationship warrants an effective working alliance, is proposed. The case of a single mother and her adolescent daughter is employed to illustrate the strategy.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2010, 22(1): 41–50

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