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At the heart of our approach to treating addiction with clinical excellence is the “therapeutic alliance” between the individual client and their primary therapist. That’s because the research is clear that a strong collaborative relationship and emotional bond between client and clinician result in better outcomes. Clinical studies now show, in fact, that therapeutic alliance is one of the single biggest predictors of positive treatment outcomes—regardless of the particular treatment modality.
The same research has found that the strength of the therapeutic alliance can be more critical to client success than the particular intervention employed, whether cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), or another of the clinical excellence practices that our therapists are credentialed in (Proctor, 2014).
Relationship factors as a whole—namely, the level of rapport between a client and their therapist, gauged by clinician attributes such as warmth, genuineness, and empathy—have been found to be “the most important clinician-related contributing factor” for effective treatment (Assay & Lambert, 1999).
Moreover, therapeutic alliance was a “significant predictor” of treatment success with respect to clinical improvement and treatment engagement and retention (Connors, DiClemente, Carroll, Longabaugh, & Donovan, 1997).
Such findings vindicate a central tenet of our philosophy, which thanks to the work of Johann Hari (authors of the New York Times bestselling book, Chasing the Scream) and others, has been a guiding core value since Beach House’s earliest beginnings: that “the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety – it’s connection,” in Hari’s words.
For the above reasons, at Beach House we engage in the following best practices for fostering and strengthening therapeutic alliance:
- We conduct ongoing trainings for our clinical staff in how to create and strengthen therapeutic alliance.
- We consistently measure therapeutic alliance according to standardized measures.
- Our clinical staff is also trained and supervised according to these measures of therapeutic alliance, so that they can make real-time improvements in the care they provide clients.