Resolution of alliance ruptures: The special case of animal-assisted psychotherapy

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Many therapists regard alliance ruptures as one of the greatest challenges therapists face in the therapy room. Alliance ruptures has been previously defined as breakdowns in the process of negotiation of treatment tasks and goals and a deterioration in the affective bond between patient and therapist. Alliance ruptures have been found to predict premature termination of treatment and poor treatment outcomes. But ruptures can also present important opportunities for gaining insight and awareness and for facilitating therapeutic change. A process of rupture resolution may lead to beneficial outcomes and serve as a corrective emotional experience. The article describes unique processes of alliance rupture resolution inherent in animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP). Building on Safran and Muran's model and on clinical examples, the article describes strategies for identifying ruptures in AAP and techniques for repairing them to facilitate a corrective experience in treatment. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-45
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© SAGE Publications.


  • Animal-assisted psychotherapy
  • alliance ruptures
  • animal attachment
  • rupture resolution processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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