Empowering Through the Alliance: A Practical Formulation

  • Valentín Escudero
  • Myrna L. Friedlander
Part of the Focused Issues in Family Therapy book series (FIFT)


This final chapter sets the stage for a general strategy for navigating multiple therapeutic alliances in challenging therapeutic contexts. The chapter provides an operative framework for building and sustaining alliances; this framework is organized in three steps and described in a flow chart representing the process of intervention. The first step is Safety to Connect: the Safety within the Therapeutic System SOFTA dimension of the alliance is considered an essential precondition for a productive process. Specific strategies are described that can create a non-defensive, nonintrusive relational environment for facilitating a strong emotional connection between the therapist and each member of the family. The second step, Connect to Engage, consists of using the SOFTA dimensions SAFETY and EMOTIONAL CONNECTION to successfully empower families to engage in the therapeutic process. At this point, family members’ behaviors signaling the strength or weakness of each person’s alliance with the therapist are observed, and, then, strategies are used to more fully engage each client in the therapeutic process. The third and final step involves nurturing a productive Expanded Alliance, which, in terms of the SOFTA model, refers to a strong SHARED SENSE OF PURPOSE WITHIN THE FAMILY. This section describes strategies to strengthen the within-family alliance over the course of therapy, while constantly monitoring the levels of SAFETY, EMOTIONAL CONNECTION, and ENGAGEMENT of each member of the family participating in the treatment.


Safety to connect Expanding alliance Working with denial Enhancing therapy engagement Traumatic response Optimism Reframing Defense mechanism Empowering though the alliance 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentín Escudero
    • 1
  • Myrna L. Friedlander
    • 2
  1. 1.University of A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.University at Albany/SUNYAlbanyUSA

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