Facilitating goals, tasks, and bonds via identity leadership: understanding the therapeutic working alliance as the outcome of social identity processes

Georgina C Lee, Michael J Platow, S Alexander Haslam, Stephen D Reicher, Diana M Grace, Tegan Cruwys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The therapeutic working alliance between practitioner and client is a robust predictor of positive client outcomes in psychotherapy. In the current paper, we propose a social identity approach to understanding this alliance, suggesting that the alliance is best conceived of as the instantiation of shared social identification within the practitioner-client dyad. We propose that practitioners' efforts to develop a shared social identity with clients-and, hence a successful working alliance-can be achieved through known processes of identity leadership. Here, practitioners work to develop a shared sense of "us" as the foundation for a working alliance ("identity entrepreneurship"), establish practices that recognize the importance of "us" ("identity impresarioship"), work to advance the interests of "us" ("identity advancement"), and ensure that they remain an important part of the alliance by remaining a collaborative part of this "us" ("identity prototypicality"). Evidence for the utility of identity leadership in advancingmutual collaboration with clients is reviewed, and a summary of preliminary identity leadership-based strategies to foster alliance is provided. Overall, the value of a social identity approach to the working alliance lies in its ability to (a) offer a theory-driven, testable framework for understanding and advancing the working alliance, (b) provide implementable and outcome-focused practitioner strategies, and (c) facilitate alliance across a range of demographically diverse clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-287
Number of pages17
JournalGroup Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice
Volume25
Issue number4
Early online date26 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Wokring alliance
  • Soical identification
  • Identity leadership
  • Psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic outcomes

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