Psychoanalysis Unit


Work in Progress - Alliance Ruptures and Resolutions in Short-Term Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Presented by Antonella Cirasola



Most research on alliance rupture-repair processes in psychotherapy has been carried out with adults and little is known about the alliance dynamics with adolescents, especially in psychodynamic treatments. This study aimed to better understand the process of alliance rupture–resolution and its role in a good-outcome case of a depressed adolescent treated with short-term psychoanalytic-psychotherapy (STPP).

A longitudinal, mixed-methods empirical single-case approach was employed. Multiple sources of information (questionnaires, interviews, sessions recordings) from various perspectives (adolescent, therapist, observer) were assembled and analysed. The different sources of evidence converged and showed that, despite the presence of frequent alliance ruptures, patient and therapist managed to resolve these and develop a good and collaborative relationship. Both patient and therapist regarded the evolution in their relationship as the treatment factor mainly responsible for the positive changes experienced by the adolescent. Based on both theoretical and empirical data, a preliminary model of how to explore and repair alliance ruptures in STPP is presented.

This study illustrates one way of applying an empirical, mixed-method approach to a single case. Its finding supports the idea that the process of repairing ruptures is an important mechanism of change. Strengths, limitations, and possible implications will be discussed.