If you believe that breaking is possible, believe also that fixing is possible: a framework for ruptures and repairs in child psychotherapy

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Aviv Nof
Tohar Dolev
Liat Leibovich
Judith Harel
Sigal Zilcha-Mano *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Sigal Zilcha-Mano | sigalzil@gmail.com


Safran and Muran’s classic theoretical framework of alliance rupture and repair suggests effective techniques for repairing alliance ruptures. Accumulating empirical evidence suggests that successful processes of rupture and repair result in better therapeutic outcome and reduced dropout rates. Although ruptures in the alliance in child psychotherapy are frequent, little is known about how to repair them. The present paper proposes a model for identifying and repairing ruptures in child psychotherapy based on Safran and Muran. It consists of four phases: i) identifying the rupture and understanding its underlying communication message, ii) indicating the presence of the rupture, iii) accepting responsibility over the therapists’ part in the rupture and emphasizing the children’s active role as communicators of their distress, and iv) resolving the rupture using change strategies and meta-communication by constructing a narrative story. The theoretical rationale of each phase is explained in detail, and practical clinical guidelines are provided. Empirical studies are needed to examine the effectiveness of the proposed framework.

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