An exploration of the experience of trainee integrative psychotherapists on therapeutic alliance in the light of their attachment style
Therapeutic Relationship has been regarded as a profound element of the psychotherapeutic procedure and crucial for the outcome of therapy. Research evidence so far claims that both therapist’s and client’s personality can impact the Therapeutic Relationship. Based on the well-researched Attachment Theory there has been some research mostly focused on how clients’ attachment patterns can affect the Alliance. Limited research, though, on how therapists experience the Relationship in relation with their Attachment Styles do exist. The current study investigates trainee therapists’ experience of the Therapeutic Relationship in the light of their Attachment Style. A qualitative approach was used for this research to investigate in depth the experience of five trainee Integrative psychotherapists who were recruited to take part in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed and verbatim was divided into superordinate and subordinate themes and analyzed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis method. Four master themes were identified. Findings were then compared and discussed according to existing literature. All participants referred to the relevance of Attachment Theory in psychotherapy. They also agreed on the activation of their Attachment Styles during the therapeutic process. The securely attached therapist confirms previous studies on her capability to offer a secure base for her clients. On the other hand therapists with insecure Attachment Styles appeared sensitive in their collaboration mostly with insecure clients. Anxiously attached therapists proved to experience difficulty in the initial stages of the Therapeutic Relationship while the combination of avoidant therapist-avoidant client appeared to be the most demanding one, regarding the concept of trust and relationship ruptures. We suggest that the exploration of trainee therapists’ Attachment Styles as well as the study of the Attachment Theory should be added to all Counseling and Psychotherapy curricula regardless the therapeutic orientation because of its contribution to forming positive Therapeutic Relationships.
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