Ruptures and repairs of group therapy alliance. An untold story in psychotherapy research

  • Gianluca Lo Coco | Department of Psychology, Educational Science and Human Movement, University of Palermo, Italy.
  • Giorgio A. Tasca School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Canada.
  • Paul L. Hewitt Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada.
  • Samuel F. Mikail Private Practice, Canada.
  • Dennis M. Kivlighan, Jr. Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education, University of Maryland, United States.


Although previous studies investigated the characteristics of therapeutic alliance in group treatments, there is still a dearth of research on group alliance ruptures and repairs. The model by Safran and Muran was originally developed to address therapeutic alliance in individual therapies, and the usefulness of this approach to group intervention needs to be demonstrated. Alliance ruptures are possible at member to therapist, member to member, member to group levels. Moreover, repairs of ruptures in group are quite complex, i.e., because other group members have to process the rupture even if not directly involved. The aim of the current study is to review the empirical research on group alliance, and to examine whether the rupture repair model can be a suitable framework for clinical understanding and research of the complexity of therapeutic alliance in group treatments. We provide clinical vignettes and commentary to illustrate theoretical and research aspects of therapeutic alliance rupture and repair in groups. Our colleague Jeremy Safran made a substantial contribution to research on therapeutic alliance, and the current paper illustrates the enduring legacy of this work and its potential application to the group therapy context.



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Special Section: the legacy of Jeremy Safran
Group therapy, Therapeutic alliance, Rupture and repair, Group process
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How to Cite
Lo Coco, G., Tasca, G. A., Hewitt, P. L., Mikail, S. F., & Kivlighan, Jr., D. M. (2019). Ruptures and repairs of group therapy alliance. An untold story in psychotherapy research. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 22(1).