ACAT: Negotiating the therapeutic alliance - Webinar
28th May 2021

Negotiating the therapeutic alliance: relational and practical approaches for strengthening the therapeutic alliance

Presented by Dr Robert Watson


Timings: 10am till 4:30pm 

How will the webinar work?

This online training session will use Zoom, a reliable and good quality platform for holding online meetings and webinars. You will be able to see and interact with your fellow participants throughout the day, and paired off in breakout rooms to work on tasks.  You will be sent a meeting link by email and simply click on the link to reach the webinar. No prior download of software required. It is recommended that you disconnect where possible all your other devices from your Wifi network during the event, as this can sometimes affect the quality of your connection.


Decades of psychotherapy research demonstrates that the therapeutic alliance is fundamental to good outcomes in any therapy.  Therefore therapist alliance building skills and being able to formulate tensions in the alliance and make them the focus of collaborative dialogue are important skills for negotiating the therapeutic alliance.  A relational approach emphasises the interdependence of relational and technical factors in psychotherapy.  It highlights how as therapists we are continuously negotiating the three interrelated elements of the alliance - the bond between client and therapist, and the degree of agreement between the tasks and goals for therapy. 

Workshop aims

  • Provide a relational formulation of the therapeutic alliance with an emphasis on interventions as relational acts i.e. the principle that the same intervention can be experienced differently depending on client’s characteristic ways of relating to themselves and others
  • To illustrate how this relational formulation can be used practically with clients to develop and strengthen the alliance and aid with the detection of tensions in the bond, goal or task components of the alliance, and their interrelationships
  • To provide an overview of the types of alliance rupture events and their markers
  • To provide a hierarchy of strategies for addressing tensions in the alliance, following the principle that negotiation about tasks or goals is as important as addressing strains in the relationship, or may require both
  • Summarise the literature about the challenges of training therapists in rupture resolution in order to stimulate reflection of participants own experiences of successes and challenges in negotiating the therapeutic alliance.

Presenter – Dr Robert Watson

I qualified as a Clinical Psychologist in 2001.  I have extensive experience in public and private settings working with clients with complex psychological presentations. I am an accredited Cognitive Analytic Therapist and Supervisor, and I am currently the vice-chair of the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy. I worked in the NHS in adult mental health and sexual health/HIV services, helping people with a wide range of mental and sexual health problems.  I worked to a senior level in the profession, managing services and training and supervising others.

The therapeutic relationship, and how as therapists we understand and try to negotiate it, has been one of my lifelong clinical interests.  I have been fortunate to teach about it and supervise doctoral research on the subject.  This is a revised version of the workshop “Understanding and resolving ruptures in the therapeutic relationship: a practical clinical skills workshop” which I first facilitated for the West London Mental Health Trust Personality Disorder Service in April 2018, and then second for ACAT in September 2018.  This will be the sixth run and all previous participants rated the workshop as either excellent or good.

Some examples of what participants have liked so far:

“Discussion about metacommunication and Robert’s willingness to share examples.”

“Brave to offer transcripts. A really helpful day”.

"Very clear guidance of how to notice, understand, and address ruptures. I have had previous lectures on this, but this was the most helpful in practical terms."

"Having more awareness of dynamics and the confidence to speak to clients about it"

"The clinical examples of how to tackle ruptures. Knowing that there is no set way to fix ruptures - it depends on the situation and your own judgement."

ACAT reserves the right to change programme content and presenters.

How to book

  • Book and pay by personal credit or debit card online instantly via this webpage (scroll down to Book Now below)
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  • Please note online booking is for users booking themselves in and paying with a personal debit or credit card.  If you are paying for a third party, by invoice please use the booking form below.  Thank you.


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