This sounds rather grand but basically, it is how you and the therapist (or counsellor) ‘connect’ and ‘engage’ with each other.
Why does this matter?
It should be an essential part of how a therapist uses their professional skill to bond with you, put you at ease and build trust and confidence. In whatever relationship we think of, for example - friends, family, school or work, trusting the other person helps you to feel you can be yourself, relax and learn from new thoughts. This also happens with your therapist. Of course, the reason you may be seeking some help could be because you do not feel comfortable speaking to other people or feel supported.
The therapeutic alliance enables you to be yourself and feel in a safe space and to drop any mask. This in itself can be powerful as well as the actual therapy. It allows you to speak to with someone who is neutral and wants the best outcome for you.
The Features of the Therapeutic Alliance.
Firstly, it takes two! You are likely to have a different view of what is important in the client-therapist relationship compared to what your therapist will hope for. You might seek a therapist who is:
Understanding and able to ‘connect with you’
A good listener and has empathy with you
You trust to speak honestly to
Experienced and skilled
Provides the right level of warmth for you in your discussions
From your therapist’s perspective the following may also be considered:
That you can agree on how the therapy can progress
That you can work together
That you show up and actively participate in sessions
A good therapeutic alliance will involve all these factors. It doesn’t just reply on the therapist but also on the client to actively take part.