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The therapeutic relationship, or the alliance built between professional care giver and care receiver, is known to be the strongest predictor of treatment outcome, regardless of which intervention model or approach is utilized. The function of therapeutic relationships is unique and commensurate with the needs of young people requiring mental health support. In psychotherapy for preteenagers, the therapeutic alliance refers to the purposeful collaborative relationship between the therapist and the young client. The core conditions that influence the quality of this relationship, according to the pioneering expert, Dr. Edward Bordin, include the following key features:

  • An emotional bond of trust, caring, and respect: Demonstrating respect for the child or adolescent’s autonomy, dignity, and perspective can help facilitate an emotionally safe environment that promotes self-expression and growth.
  • Treatment collaboration: Working collaboratively to identify treatment goals, for example, can empower a child or adolescent to have a vested interest in the therapeutic process.
  • Agreement on the goals of therapy: For a child or adolescent to effectively progress through the therapeutic process they must agree on their treatment goals.

Therapists who establish a positive therapeutic relationship can help young people build resilience, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and learn strategies to effectively navigate the inevitable stressors and challenges they will face throughout adolescence. One study that explored the therapeutic relationship as a change facilitator in different moments of psychotherapy, concluded that a positive therapeutic relationship facilitates early changes in the motivation of children and parents, and provides them with a healing, relational experience. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University asserts that childhood resilience involves supportive relationships and opportunities for skill-building, and notes “the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships provide the personalized responsiveness, scaffolding, and protection that buffer children from developmental disruption.” Hence, a healthy therapeutic alliance provides a preteen with the opportunity to develop resilience. 

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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