Moments of tension and strain in psychotherapy and how they promote a good alliance and outcome

Figlioli, Patrick; Caspar, Franz (28 June 2014). Moments of tension and strain in psychotherapy and how they promote a good alliance and outcome (Unpublished). In: 45th International Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR). Copenhagen, Denmark. 25.06.-28.06.2014.

It is well established that the therapeutic relationship contributes about as much to therapy outcome as ‘technical’ intervention. Furthermore, it follows clear prescriptive concepts in the same manner as technical interventions do. ‘Motive Oriented Therapeutic Relationship’ is such a concept for establishing a solid basis for whatever therapeutic work the patients’ problems require (Grawe, 1980, 1992; Caspar, 1996). Yet, the therapeutic relationship doesn’t explain everything because other factors play a significant role too. Previous studies showed that outcome is clearly better when therapists achieved a generally high quality of a therapeutic relationship when they did not shy away from possibly threatening interventions such as confrontations. This ratio of a fruitful alliance and marginally present confrontations in the same session also showed significant correlations with patient’s assessment of alliance and progress in therapy (Figlioli et al., 2009). The current state of research in the field, however, does not give any answers to questions like how good and bad confrontations can be characterized or what role does the intensity, respectively frequency of confrontations play in the process of psychotherapy. Therefore, we analyzed a sample of 80 therapies of 3 sessions each representing either good or bad outcome. Independent raters judged moment by moment how therapists used confrontative interventions. 20 cases, which showed an excellent or a very poor outcome, as well as an unexpected pattern were analyzed in further quantitative details. We found that confrontations are correlated to good outcome when they are uttered implicitly, related to an important topic of the patient (e.g. one of the defined therapy goals), long but weak, embedded in prior complementarity and not in the first three sessions of a therapy, as well as not an interactional discrepancy between the patient and the therapist.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Figlioli, Patrick and Caspar, Franz


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Adriana Biaggi

Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2015 14:11

Last Modified:

14 Apr 2015 14:19


Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback