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Roadblocks in Therapy: The value of difficult moments in the client-therapist relationship

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RopeResearch shows that the relationship between client and therapist (the therapeutic alliance) is the most powerful predictor of success in therapy. But what happens if your relationship with your therapist gets rocky?

Family Institute staff clinician Jacob Goldsmith, PhD wrote a Clinical Science Insight white paper discussing this very thing. An avid researcher on the client-therapist relationship and what is known as rupture-repair, the process of fixing a weakened client-therapist relationship, Dr. Goldsmith gives an overview of the existing research on this phenomenon in his paper “The Value of Difficult Moments in the Client-Therapist Relationship.”

“The process of experiencing, discussing, and solving problems in the therapeutic relationship is important not simply because it rights the course of off-track therapy,” writes Dr. Goldsmith, “but also because it provides unique opportunities for learning and behavior change.”

Research also shows that moments like these can actually improve therapy: “Evidence also suggests that clients and therapists who successfully navigate difficult moments in therapy are rewarded with better outcomes.”

Read more about the importance of the therapeutic alliance, as well as how a moment of tension or discomfort can actually help the therapy process on our website.

Read Dr. Goldsmith’s full bio our make an appointment on our Staff Bio webpage.

The Family Institute offers counseling therapy for couples, individuals and families. Learn more about the work we do and the services we provide by visiting

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