The therapeutic alliance: exploring the concept of "safety" from a neuropsychotherapeutic perspective

Allison, Kobie L. and Rossouw, Pieter J. (2013) The therapeutic alliance: exploring the concept of "safety" from a neuropsychotherapeutic perspective. International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 1 1: 21-29. doi:10.12744/ijnpt.2013.0021-0029

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Author Allison, Kobie L.
Rossouw, Pieter J.
Title The therapeutic alliance: exploring the concept of "safety" from a neuropsychotherapeutic perspective
Journal name International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy
ISSN 2202-7653
Publication date 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.12744/ijnpt.2013.0021-0029
Volume 1
Issue 1
Start page 21
End page 29
Total pages 9
Place of publication Park Ridge, QLD, Australia
Publisher Dahlitz Media
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The role of the therapeutic relationship in the counseling process has been extensively demonstrated in the literature; however, the neurobiology of this relationship and the critical role of safety in enhancing therapeutic outcomes, and to ensure compliance and prevent relapse, are less will understood. The need for a safe space has deeply rooted neurobiological markers that have been well described by Seymour Epstein’s cognitive-experiential self-theory and Klaus Grawe’s neuropsychotherapeutic model. Epstein showed how attachment and control are two of the basic human needs that must be fulfilled to facilitate change—indeed, these mental conditions must be obtained in order for the human species to flourish—and Grawe subsequently demonstrated how these needs play a vital role in the therapeutic relationship.

Recent research by Allan Schore, Richard Davidson and Eric Kandel indicates that the right hemisphere of the brain is generally responsible for assessing safety or danger from others and in organizing a sense of the emotional self. Importantly, it is this appraisal of events that may lead to the development of motivational avoidance or approach schemas during the course of one’s life in order to satisfy basic needs.

This paper explores the fundamental neurobiological markers that need to be considered in the therapy process as without effective regulation of these primitive neurobiological markers, the process may be jeopardized. Crucially, the therapeutic relationship captures these key indicators. Clients who seek counseling not only have difficulties with the presenting problem itself but also need a safe space to effectively address the issues. For people in distress their experience of safety is an area of critical importance yet, to date, little research has investigated this factor. The focus of this paper is the need for attachment and control, which are discussed in relation to their dual function in facilitating safety within the therapeutic alliance.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Thu, 05 Sep 2013, 08:25:02 EST by Pieter Rossouw on behalf of School of Social Work and Human Services