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A conversation analytic study of building and repairing the alliance in family therapy

  • Muntigl, Peter
  • Horvath, Adam O
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2016
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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In this paper, we draw from the methods of conversation analysis to illustrate how different alliances that form the “web of relationships” of family therapy are ruptured and subsequently repaired. By focusing on the interactional practices of a master therapist, Dr. Salvador Minuchin, we examine how he effectively manages a disaffiliative episode that occurred at the very beginning of a therapy session. In particular, we show how Minuchin’s practices function to re-establish consensus and a positive alliance and to endorse the mother’s parental authority (in a context where she claims to be helpless and lack agency). Minuchin thus uses a range of alliance building strategies to join with the family by sharing their distress and, at the same time, moves the conversation forward in a therapeutically-driven direction to facilitate a restructuring of familial roles and relations.

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