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RUPTURE RESOLUTION RATING SYSTEM (3RS): MANUAL

Authors:

Abstract

The 3RS is an observer-based measure of alliance ruptures and resolution strategies. The 3RS yields ratings for the frequency and significance of withdrawal and confrontation ruptures, as well as the therapist’s use of strategies to resolve these ruptures.
RUPTURE RESOLUTION
RATING SYSTEM (3RS):
MANUAL
Catherine F. Eubanks, J. Christopher Muran, & Jeremy D. Safran
Brief Psychotherapy Research Program
Mount Sinai-Beth Israel Medical Center
Ja nuary 2015
1
Introduction 2
Coding Procedures 4
Withdrawal Rupture Markers 10
Confrontation Rupture Markers 18
Resolution Strategies 28
Rupture/Resolution Marker Differential Diagnosis 38
Coding Examples 41
Table of Contents
2
Our view of the therapeutic alliance draws on Bordin’s (1979) three-part
conceptualization: the alliance is composed of 1) agreement between patient and therapist on
the tasks of treatment; 2) agreement on the goals of treatment; and 3) a personal, affective
bond between the patient and therapist. An alliance rupture is a deterioration in the alliance,
manifested by a lack of collaboration between patient and therapist on tasks or goals, or a
strain in the emotional bond.
Note that our definition of ruptures related to tasks and goals focuses on lack of
collaboration rather than lack of agreement. This reflects our experience that not all
disagreements between patients and therapists are ruptures. A patient can express
disagreement with the therapist in an appropriate, collaborative way that does not constitute a
rupture. An emphasis on collaboration over agreement is also helpful in instances when a
patient has concerns about a task or goal, but expresses agreement with the therapist in an
effort to appease the therapist or to avoid conflict. These surface-level agreements are actually
examples of withdrawal ruptures (described below).
Ruptures are inevitable and occur in all therapies and with therapists of all skill levels.
Ruptures can emerge when patients and therapists unwittingly become caught in vicious circles
or enactments. A rupture may remain outside of the patient’s and the therapist’s conscious
awareness, and it may not significantly obstruct therapeutic progress. In extreme cases,
however, ruptures can lead to dropout or treatment failure.
Ruptures can be organized into two main subtypes: withdrawal and confrontation
ruptures (Harper, 1989a, 1989b). In differentiating between these two subtypes, we draw on
Horney’s (1950) concept of responding to anxiety by moving away, toward, or against others.
In withdrawal ruptures, the patient either moves away from the therapist (e.g., by avoiding the
therapist’s questions), or the patient may appear to move toward the therapist, but in a way
that denies an aspect of the patient’s experience (e.g., by being overly deferential and
appeasing) and is therefore a withdrawal from the actual work of therapy. In confrontation
ruptures, the patient moves against the therapist, either by expressing anger or dissatisfaction
in a non-collaborative manner (e.g., hostile complaints about the therapist or the treatment) or
by trying to pressure or control the therapist (e.g., making demands of the therapist). Ruptures
can also include elements of both withdrawal and confrontation.
Although ruptures are a function of both patient and therapist contributions, this coding
system focuses on patient behaviors as indicators or markers of ruptures. In our experience,
even if a therapist behavior precipitates an alliance rupture (e.g., the therapist is critical or
condescending), the patient usually responds by withdrawing or confronting the therapist; thus,
we are usually still able to capture the rupture with this coding system. However, if coders feel
that a therapist is playing a large role in causing or exacerbating ruptures, the coders should
indicate that on the final item on the scoresheet.
The process by which a rupture is repaired is referred to as a resolution process. A
resolution process enables the patient and therapist to renew or strengthen their emotional
bond, and to begin or resume collaborating on the tasks and goals of therapy. The resolution
process may also serve as a corrective emotional experience for the patient. Therapists may
attempt to initiate resolution processes by employing resolution strategies, such as changing
Introduction
3
the task, or disclosing the therapist’s internal experience of the rupture. The 3RS tracks
resolution strategies over the course of the session as potential markers of resolution
processes. After viewing the entire session, the coder determines the extent to which the
resolution strategies were successful in actually bringing about a resolution to the rupture or
ruptures in the session.
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Unit of coding: This coding system can be applied to different amounts of clinical material. The
following suggestions are based on our experience:
Coding the entire session as one unit: We have found that it is difficult to capture the
many changes that can occur in one session with just one score. Also, it is harder to
reach reliability.
Coding speech turn by speech turn: This kind of coding is possible, but requires
transcripts. Also, it is sometimes unclear within one speech turn whether or not a
rupture is occurringmore speech turns may be needed to clarify what is transpiring.
Coding in 5 minute segments: This is the approach we are currently using. We find that
5 minutes usually gives us enough material to identify ruptures, but not so much that
we cannot reach agreement on what we are seeing. However, 5 minutes is somewhat
arbitrary. Other researchers may prefer longer (e.g., 10 minutes) or shorter (e.g., 1 or 2
minute) time bins.
Using video: Transcripts can be used in addition to video, but transcripts cannot replace video
because nonverbals are important for detecting ruptures and resolution events. You can stop,
rewind, and review the video whenever necessary to complete the ratings.
Good process: Ruptures occur often, but in most cases, they are not occurring every minute of
the session. It is important to be clear on what process looks like when there are no ruptures,
before trying to identify ruptures. When there are no ruptures, the process will be marked by
the following characteristics:
Patient and therapist are attuned to each other. They are on the same page.
Patient and therapist are both actively engaged in the work of therapy.
Patient and therapist either agree on the tasks and goals of treatment, or they are
actively and collaboratively working to reach clarification and agreement on the tasks
and goals of treatment.
Patient and therapist trust and respect each other and are comfortable with each other,
to an extent that is appropriate for the stage of therapy (i.e., there will be more trust
and comfort in the fifteenth session than in the first).
Note that a lack of ruptures is not necessarily the same as effective therapy. A patient and
therapist could be in agreement and be working together very smoothly, but pursuing goals and
tasks that are not the best choice for the patient’s situation. When coding ruptures, the focus is
on the quality of the collaboration and bond between the patient and therapistnot the
quality of the therapist’s case conceptualization, choice of treatment approach, or adherence
or competence.
Observing a rupture: A rupture is a deterioration in the alliance between patient and therapist,
manifested by a lack of collaboration on tasks or goals or a strain in the emotional bond. In a
rupture, the patient either moves away from the therapist or the work of therapy (withdrawal),
moves toward the therapist in a way that denies the patient’s own experience and thereby
Coding Procedures
5
contributes to a movement away from the work of therapy (also withdrawal), or the patient
moves against the therapist or the work of therapy (confrontation).
The word “rupture” may call to mind a major argument or conflict in a session. However,
with this coding system, we are coding minor tensions and strains as well as major
disagreements. Even good sessions with skillful therapists may contain some degree of tension
or strain. That being said, you will likely find sessions that do not contain any ruptures. As
beginning coders are often eager to find ruptures, and may be tempted to overcode, we
suggest this rule of thumb: when in doubt, wait and watch. If a rupture is developing, it will
likely become clear as you continue to watch the session.
The following are some indications of a rupture:
Patient and therapist are not working together collaboratively and productively. They
are “not on the same page.”
There is strain, tension, or awkwardness between patient and therapist.
Patient and therapist are misaligned or misattuned.
Patient and therapist seem distant from each other.
Patient and therapist are working at cross purposes.
Patient and therapist are acting friendly, but you sense tension or disagreement
beneath the surface, such that the friendliness seems to be a pseudoalliance.
Patient and therapist seem to be caught in a vicious cycle or enactment.
You feel very bored while watching a session. This might be a sign that a withdrawal
rupture is occurring and the patient is avoiding talking about genuine feelings and
concerns.
Deciding type of rupture:
Withdrawal: patient is moving away from the therapist or the work of therapy.
Confrontation: patient is moving against the therapist or the work of therapy.
Both withdrawal and confrontation: patient is simultaneously moving away and against.
For example, the patient may criticize the therapist (confrontation) while smiling and
laughing nervously (withdrawal). Patients who are dissatisfied with some aspect of
therapy, but at the same time want to avoid conflict with the therapist, are particularly
likely to exhibit mixtures of confrontation and withdrawal.
Choosing category of rupture marker: Once you decide on the type of rupture (withdrawal or
confrontation), then select the rupture marker within that category that best describes what is
happening. (See the category definitions and examples on pp. 10-27 for descriptions of the
rupture markers.)
Withdrawal rupture markers:
Denial
Minimal response
Abstract communication
Avoidant storytelling and/or shifting topic
Deferential and appeasing
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Content/affect split
Self-criticism and/or hopelessness
Confrontation rupture markers:
Complaints/concerns about the therapist
Patient rejects therapist intervention
Complaints/concerns about the activities of therapy
Complaints/concerns about the parameters of therapy
Complaints/concerns about progress in therapy
Patient defends self against therapist
Efforts to control/pressure therapist
Coding is not limited by speech turns: a single speech turn can contain multiple rupture
markers. For example:
Patient: I don’t like this ridiculous homework, and I don’t like the way you keep nagging
me to do it.
This one speech turn contains two rupture markers and should receive two confrontation codes
(complaint about activities and complaint about therapist).
Rating the clarity of the rupture marker: When you see an example of a rupture marker, put a
check on the scoresheet. If it is unclear whether the behavior you observed meets full criteria
for a particular rupture, you can rate it with a check minus.
Meets criteria for rupture marker
- Unclear whether it meets criteria for rupture marker
Resolution
Observing resolution: When a rupture is repaired or resolved, there is a shift in a positive
direction. Whereas the patient and therapist had seemed stuck, or locked in a vicious cycle,
drifting apart, or working against one another, now they begin to come together, to understand
each other, and to work collaboratively.
In order for an event to constitute a resolution marker, it must be in the context of a
rupture. Usually, that will mean that a rupture occurred prior to the resolution attempt. In
some cases, a therapist may refer to a rupture from a prior session or from earlier in the same
session, and then commence a resolution attempt. When you are coding multiple sessions
from the same dyad, you may be able to detect very subtle references to prior ruptures. For
example, a therapist may try to “preempt” a rupture by employing resolution strategies
because he/she anticipates that something he/she is about to say or do may precipitate a
rupture. If you are able to make a link between the resolution strategy and a past rupture,
current rupture, or rupture that is anticipated based on past ruptures, then you can code a
resolution strategy. If there is no connection to a rupture, then the behavior cannot be
considered a resolution strategy, even if it otherwise is topographically similar to one of the
resolution strategies. For example, a therapist may decide to change tasks for many reasons.
Only if the change in tasks is related to a rupture can it be coded as a resolution strategy.
7
While resolutions will usually occur following a rupture, they may not correspond one to
one. In other words, there may not be a resolution for every rupture. Also, resolutions may
not follow directly after rupturesthere can be a rupture at the beginning of the session, and a
resolution for that rupture may come at the end of the session. Or one resolution event may
address a series of ruptures. For these reasons, we have found it easier to track attempts to
resolve ruptures as we watch the session by coding therapists’ use of resolution strategies.
Only after watching the entire session do we make global ratings of the extent to which the
resolution attempts succeeded in resolving ruptures.
Choosing category of resolution strategy:
Select the resolution strategy that best describes what the therapist is doing to address the
rupture. (See the category definitions and examples on pp. 28-37 for descriptions of the
strategies.)
Resolution strategies:
Therapist clarifies a misunderstanding.
Therapist changes tasks or goals.
Therapist illustrates tasks or provides a rationale for treatment.
Therapist invites the patient to discuss thoughts or feelings with respect to the therapist
or some aspect of therapy.
Therapist acknowledges his/her contribution to a rupture.
Therapist discloses his/her internal experience of the patient-therapist interaction.
Therapist links the rupture to larger interpersonal patterns between the patient and the
therapist.
Therapist links the rupture to larger interpersonal patterns in the patient’s other
relationships.
Therapist validates the patient’s defensive posture.
Therapist responds to a rupture by redirecting or refocusing the patient.
As with the rupture markers, coding is not limited by speech turn. For example:
Therapist: It makes sense that you are frustrated with me right now. I think I haven’t
been sensitive enough to your concerns about the homework.
The therapist’s response is one speech turn that contains two resolution markers (validating the
patient’s defensive posture and acknowledging contribution to a rupture).
Rating the clarity of the resolution marker: When you see an example of a resolution strategy,
put a check on the scoresheet. If it is unclear whether the behavior you observed meets full
criteria for a particular strategy, you can rate it with a check minus.
Meets criteria for resolution strategy
- Unclear whether it meets criteria for resolution strategy
Global Ratings
These ratings are made after watching and coding the entire session in 5-minute segments.
They should be based on the entire session.
8
Significance ratings: Rate the significance of each type of rupture marker (e.g., denial, minimal
response) and each resolution strategy (e.g., clarify misunderstanding, change tasks/goals).
Use the following scale:
Significance
No significance
No rupture markers/resolution strategies, or only very minor ones
that did not appear to impact the alliance. It is possible for a session
to include a few minor ruptures (e.g., patient tells a somewhat
avoidant story) and resolution strategies (e.g., therapist redirects
patient) that have no visible or lasting impact on the bond or on
collaboration on tasks and goals. Such very minor ruptures and
resolution strategies can be coded here.
Minor significance
Rupture markers/resolution strategies have a minor impact on the
alliance.
Some significance
Rupture markers/resolution strategies have some impact on the
alliance.
Moderate significance
Rupture markers/resolution strategies have a moderate impact on
the alliance. Probably the easiest way to gauge “moderate” is to use
this category for markers/strategies that seem greater than 3, but not
significant enough to be rated a 5.
High significance
Rupture markers/resolution strategies have a noteworthy impact on
the alliance.
Please note that you are rating significance, not frequency or duration. Numerous
minor ruptures may be less significant for the alliance than one large rupture.
Overall Withdrawal and Confrontation: After rating each rupture marker, rate the
significance of all the withdrawal markers as a group, and all the confrontation markers
as a group, using the Significance scale above.
o Once you have made the Overall Withdrawal and Confrontation ratings,
compare them and make certain that the difference between them reflects your
overall sense of the session. For example, if the session was marked more by
withdrawal than confrontation in terms of significance for the alliance, then
your overall Withdrawal score should be higher than your overall Confrontation
score.
Overall Resolution Rating: This rating is your global assessment of the extent to which
resolution actually occurred across all the ruptures in the session. This may differ from your
significance ratings for the individual resolution strategies. A session may include numerous,
significant attempts to resolve ruptures (many high Significance ratings), but those attempts
may not be completely successful (low or moderate Overall Resolution). Sessions may include
some ruptures that are resolved and some that are not; pick the rating that best captures your
global sense of the session.
Start by anchoring at 3, and then move up or down based on the extent of resolution in
the session. Three is “average.” In this context, “average” is meant to convey the idea of
typical, commonplace, baseline. It is not meant to indicate the statistical average (mean) in
your sample. For example, your sample may include only highly skilled therapists who are all
excellent at repairing ruptures. In that case, you could give them all high ratings.
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Overall
Resolution
Rating
Degree to which ruptures were resolved.
1
Poor resolution/worse allianceMajor ruptures were not resolved. Either the ruptures
were not addressed, so they continued, or attempts to resolve ruptures were unsuccessful.
If attempts to resolve ruptures of any kindmajor or minormade the alliance worse,
then code that here.
2
Below average resolution/no improvement in allianceMinor ruptures were not resolved,
or major ruptures were only slightly resolved. Resolution strategies neither improved nor
harmed the alliance.
3
OK/average resolution/OK allianceRuptures were at least partly addressed and resolved.
By the end of the session, patient and therapist have some bond and are generally able to
collaborate on most therapy tasks and goals. Sessions with no ruptures or only very minor
ruptures that have no significant impact on the work of therapy should be coded here.
4
Good, above average resolution/somewhat improved allianceRuptures were generally
resolved well. Some ruptures may have been resolved very well and others only
moderately well, but overall, problems with the bond and/or collaboration on tasks and
goals were addressed with some success. If very minor ruptures were resolved very well,
code that here.
5
Very good resolution/improved allianceRuptures were more than minor, and they were
resolved very well. The resolution process seems to have improved the alliance
strengthened the bond between patient and therapist, and/or facilitated greater
collaboration between patient and therapist on the tasks and goals of therapy.
Therapist Contribution Rating: The last item on the scoresheet asks coders to rate the extent to
which the therapist caused or exacerbated ruptures in the session. We regard ruptures as
relational phenomena that always involve both members of the dyad, so therapists are always
contributing to ruptures in some fashion. The focus of this item is the extent to which the
therapist is playing a “larger than average” role by actually initiating or exacerbating the
rupture. The therapist might be actively engaging in negative interpersonal behaviors such as
criticism, or the therapist might be unusually passive and seem to ignore prominent rupture
markers. If you feel that the therapist is exhibiting markers of withdrawal and/or confrontation
that cause or exacerbate patient rupture markers in the session, use this code to capture the
therapist’s behavior.
10
In a withdrawal, the patient is moving away from the therapist and/or the work of
therapy. Below are descriptions and examples of markers of withdrawal ruptures.
Denial
The denial marker overlaps with, but is not necessarily synonymous with denial as a
defense mechanism. The patient withdraws from the therapist and/or the work of therapy by
denying a feeling state that is manifestly evident, or denying the importance of interpersonal
relationships or events that seem important and relevant to the work of therapy. The patient’s
denial functions to shut down or move away from the current topic or activity, thereby
hindering the work of therapy.
The patient may be aware that he/she is denying his/her true feelings in order to avoid
discussing them. Or, he/she may not be awarehe/she may be disconnected from his/her own
internal state. In other words, the patient may be withdrawn from him/herself. This
constitutes a withdrawal rupture because it functions to create or exacerbate withdrawal from
the therapist and the work of therapy.
T: You look upset.
P: I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.
T: According to what it says here, it looks like you could have died too.
P: Yeah. That would have solved a lot of problems
T: What would it solve?
P: Nothing. I didn’t mean anything by it.
T: It’s interesting that you compare this mission with the death of your mother.
P: My mother’s death was the most traumatic event of my life so far. That mission was just
another mission.
Check minus rating: Patient’s denial is unclear. You suspect that the patient might be trying to
move away from the therapist, but it is also possible that the patient is collaborating by openly,
honestly, and accurately reporting how he or she feels or thinks.
T: You look upset.
P: (calmly) I don’t think I’m actually upset right now, I think I’m just really tired.
Withdrawal Rupture Markers
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Minimal Response
Patient withdraws from the therapist by going silent or by giving minimal responses to
questions or statements that are intended to initiate or continue discussion. The patient’s
minimal responses function to shut down the therapist’s attempts to engage the patient in the
work of therapy.
Walking out: An extreme example of a minimal response is walking out of the session.
Nonverbals: When a patient’s speech does not meet criteria for a withdrawal marker, but the
patient’s nonverbal behaviors indicate that the patient is withdrawing (e.g., patient slumps
down, sinks into his/her chair, avoids eye contact), this code can be used.
Cell phone: The patient stopping the work of therapy to answer or check his/her cell phone can
also constitute a minimal response. (Note that if the patient does this in a way that reveals
hostility or contempt for the therapist, then it should also receive a confrontation code. If there
is a compelling, external reason why the patient is answering the phone in the middle of a
session—e.g., a parent taking an emergency call from the nurse at a child’s school—then do not
code it as a rupture.)
Overly talkative therapists: When a therapist dominates the session by talking a great deal,
coders may feel that the patient has no choice but to give minimal responses because the
therapist does not give the patient an opportunity to speak. Pay close attention to the patient’s
body language. If the patient appears to be actively listening and is engaged by what the
therapist is saying, then the patient is not withdrawing. However, if the patient seems bored or
disengaged, then minimal response is an appropriate code even if the therapist is not pausing
to let the patient speak.
T: That sounds like it was very difficult. How did it make you feel?
P: (Shrugs.)
T: So is it upsetting to even talk about it right now?
P: Sort of.
T: What type of cancer is it?
P: You know what? I don’t want to talk about it.
Check minus rating: Patient gives a short response or goes silent for a few moments, and it is
unclear whether the patient is withdrawing from the therapist or is engaging in the work of
therapy by quietly processing what the therapist just said. What a patient says after a long
pause may help to clarify whether a short reply or silence was a minimal response or not. A
pause followed by a thoughtful answer suggests that the patient is engaged in the therapy
process. A pause followed by a terse response or a change in topic suggests that the patient’s
silence was part of a withdrawal.
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Abstract Communication
Patient avoids the work of therapy by using vague or abstract language. The patient’s
use of abstract language functions to keep the therapist at a distance from the patient’s true
feelings, concerns, or issues.
Intellectualization: The patient may intellectualize by focusing on rational concepts and
complex terminology.
T: Did it bother you when I said that?
P: I was confused, but I think it’s OK for things to be confusing a little every once in a while. It
makes you think about it more and you can learn from it.
Global statements: The patient may make global statements that allude to an issue that is
relevant to the treatment, rather than directly stating his/her true thoughts or feelings.
Vague and confusing: The patient may rely on abstract and/or vague language to such an
extent that the therapist (and the coder) may become confused and have difficulty following
what the patient is saying.
P: But I mean, you know, I was thinking that maybe what I would do is just not let that happen, and
just say, well, you know, maybe I don’t even have to understand why that happened, maybe if I
just don’t let that happen, that I would just be in a better place to work on things.
Differentiating between collaboration and collusion: Sometimes therapists join patients in the
use of abstract language, and both engage in an intellectualized discussion. To determine
whether or not this constitutes collaboration (no rupture), or collusion (a withdrawal rupture),
consider the following:
Does the intellectualization function to strengthen the bond between the patient and
therapist?
Do they agree that this intellectual discussion is an appropriate therapy task for this
moment in this session?
Do they agree that this intellectual discussion is consistent with or in support of their
agreed-upon treatment goals?
If so, then this is not a withdrawal rupture.
If the intellectual discussion is a way of avoiding the work of therapy and/or is harming
their bond, then it is a form of withdrawal.
Check minus rating: Patient is using abstract language, but it is unclear whether this is
contributing to a withdrawal from the therapist and/or the work of therapy.
Note: some patients have an intellectualized style of speaking. If this is the way the patient
generally speaks, and it does not seem to interfere with the work of therapy, then it is not a
withdrawal rupture.
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Avoidant Storytelling and/or Shifting Topic
Patient tells stories and/or shifts the topic in a manner that functions to avoid the work
of therapy. It is not uncommon for the patient to do both simultaneouslyto shift the topic by
launching into an avoidant story.
Avoidant stories: These stories are often long and tangential or circumstantial, but they can
also be brief or even entertaining and may foster the sense of a “pseudoalliance. The key is
that the stories function to move away from the therapist and/or the work. They may shut the
therapist out, as if the patient were not even aware that the therapist is there.
Talking about someone else’s reactions in an effort to avoid talking about oneself should
also be coded here; for example, a patient who has been laid off talks about his co-workers’
stress and anxiety rather than his own. (If the patient were to talk about the difficulties “many
people are facing in this economy,” then abstract communication would be the appropriate
code.)
Stories that are efforts to engage in the work with the therapist by communicating
something that the patient believes is important and relevant should not be coded as
withdrawal ruptures. If the patient and the therapist chat a little at the very beginning or end
of the session as a way of “warming up” or “cooling down,” do not code that as avoidant
storytelling unless you have a strong sense that they are avoiding the work of therapy in an
important way.
Shifting topic: A good indication that the patient is withdrawing by shifting the topic is if he/she
changes the topic from a “heavy” subject to a “light” one.
If the patient shifts the topic not to avoid, but rather to enhance the work of therapy,
this would not be coded as a withdrawal (e.g., “I know that we were talking about my job, but I
just remembered something that happened with my boyfriend that I really want to discuss with
you…”).
T: How do you think things are going so far in our work together?
P: That sounds like a performance review question. I had a performance review at work last week,
and it was so stressful…
T: Are you experiencing me as angry right now?
P: No, no. I feel, um, actually, um, very safe talking to you. And it’s not that I don’t worry-- I don’t
feel-- I can say to my boyfriend
Collaboration vs. collusion: The patient may tell an avoidant-sounding story or make a sudden
topic shift, and the therapist may go along and even encourage the story or the new topic by
asking questions or making encouraging comments. To determine whether this constitutes a
withdrawal rupture, consider the following questions:
Does the story/topic shift function to strengthen the bond between the patient and
therapist?
Do they agree that this story/new topic is an appropriate therapy task for this moment
in this session?
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Do they agree that this story/new topic is consistent with or in support of their agreed-
upon treatment goals?
If so, then this is not a withdrawal rupture.
If the story/topic shift is a way of avoiding the work of therapy and/or is harming their
bond, then it is a form of withdrawal.
Check minus rating: Patient tells a story or shifts the topic, but it is unclear whether this
functions to avoid the work of therapy. The story or new topic may be somewhat relevant, but
still has an avoidant quality (e.g., somehow shutting out the therapist). Or the therapist goes
along with the story or topic shift, and it is unclear whether the patient and therapist are
colluding in a withdrawal or collaborating.
15
Deferential and Appeasing
Patient withdraws from the therapist and/or the work of therapy by being overly
compliant and submitting to the therapist in a deferential manner. The patient’s deferential
behavior functions to avoid conflict with the therapist, and/or makes it harder for the therapist
to know how the patient really feels or what the patient really thinks. Code deferential for
patients who “yes” the therapist—who seem superficially engaged and smile and say “yes” to
everything the therapist says, even when they do not really agree.
T: How was the homework?
P: Oh, it was so helpful. You give such wonderful advice.
T: It’s a process, but I think we can both agree it’s nice to have that support. What I’m hearing,
and you can tell me if it’s different, is that there isn’t so much of that right now.
P: Yeah, totally.
T: It can be challenging and can increase the feelings of sadness.
P: Yeah.
T: That’s what it sounds like.
P: I think that’s absolutely right. I totally agree. I 100% agree.
Collaboration vs. deference: Not every positive comment a patient makes is deferential.
Patients can genuinely feel and honestly express positive feelings about the therapist and the
work of therapy. In order to determine whether a patient’s positive comments constitute a
withdrawal rupture, consider the following questions:
Does the patient seem genuine, honest, and engaged? (Note body language as well as
tone of voice.) Then do not code a withdrawal rupture.
Does the patient seem insincere? Does it feel like the patient is trying to smooth things
over, to avoid conflict, to win over the therapist? Then do code a withdrawal rupture.
Check minus rating: Patient is agreeing with or praising the therapist or the therapy, and it is
unclear whether the patient is being overly deferential or sincere.
P: Did you do it all yourself, or did you use an interior decorator? So this is all you? I’m impressed.
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Content/Affect Split
The patient withdraws from the therapist and/or the work of therapy by exhibiting
affect that does not match the content of his/her narrative. For example, the patient is
describing an upsetting event, but his/her affect is too positive (smiling, nervous laugh) or is
very matter-of-fact.
Patient looks tearful.
T: It’s hard for you to tell me about those sad feelings.
P: (A bright, forced smile). Yes, it is. It’s not easy to talk about.
Content/affect splits are particularly noteworthy when the patient uses positive affect to soften
or withdraw from a complaint or concern about the therapist or the therapy.
T: What just happened? You did not like that question?
P: Well, I just felt like things were moving forward (chuckling), that question took me back a couple
of steps.
P: So, first, I wanted (chuckle), after the last session, I felt like, I don’t know if that was the
intention or not but I felt like you were trying to tell me that I need to take more responsibility.
(Smiling). That’s the impression I left with. Maybe I wasn’t doing my homework, so I wasn’t
taking it seriously, me coming here, and that I wasn’t challenging myself. Like, I was just coming
in here and it became like a routine. So I took that as you want me to do my homework and I
need to work on things and put more effort into this because I’m not here because someone
made me, I’m here because I wanted to, so to get benefit out of it, I needed to be more
proactive. (Laughs.)
Content/affect split vs. humor: Do not code every time a patient laughs or smiles or makes a
sarcastic joke. Upsetting events can contain within them aspects that are funny or ironic, and a
patient’s comfort with laughing with his/her therapist could be a marker of a strong alliance
rather than a rupture. To determine whether a content/affect split constitutes a withdrawal
rupture, consider the following questions:
Does the split between the patient’s content and his/her affect cause or reveal
weakness in the bond with the therapist? Does the patient seem uneasy or
uncomfortable? Do you have the sense that the patient does not trust the therapist
enough to reveal his/her true feelings?
Does the content/affect split hinder the work of therapy by making it harder for the
therapist to know how the patient really feels or what the patient really thinks?
Is the patient using overly positive affect in an effort to avoid conflict with the therapist
by “softening the blow” of a complaint or concern?
If yes, then code a withdrawal rupture.
Check minus rating: When the content and affect seem discrepant, but you are not sure if the
patient is withdrawing from the therapist.
17
Self-criticism and/or hopelessness
The patient withdraws from the therapist and the work of therapy by becoming
absorbed in a depressive process of self-criticism and/or hopelessness that seems to shut out
the therapist and to close off any possibility that the therapist or the treatment can help the
patient. The patient may make self-denigrating and self-minimizing statements. The patient
may engage in this process as a means of avoiding conflict with the therapist.
T: That sounds important. Can you tell me more about that?
P: (Sighs). What’s the point? It’s not going to make me feel better.
T: It’s hard for you to tell me “no.”
P: Now you see why it’s impossible for me to get a job.
Patient and therapist discussing patient’s sense of loneliness. Patient mentions several friends and
acquaintances, but for each one, provides a reason that she cannot turn to them for support.
T: Are there other people in your life that we can get you connected with?
P: Um…(long pause)---it’s hard because the friends I’ve made here, they’re not people that I really
want to open up to. They’re not people I think would give good advice. It’s more of an informal,
social friendship than in my proper friends back home. I haven’t found, you know, really good
friends here yet.
Help-rejecting patients like this can present with a combination of self-critical/hopeless and reject
intervention. The therapist keeps trying to get patient to identify someone she can talk to, and the
patient rejects the idea that such a person exists in her lifebecause she is hopeless that her situation
can be improved.
Note that patients can be self-critical or hopeless about some aspects of their situation, but still
be engaged with the therapist and the work of therapy, and can explore these feelings with the
therapist in a collaborative way, as in the example below:
P: I doubted my intelligence. Like, maybe I’m just stupid because I’m having all these problems. So
am I really a thinking type? Maybe I’m sensing. I don’t think things through. Because I always
test as thinking, but then I thought, well these tests are subjective. So maybe I don’t know who I
am.
Patient is not withdrawingshe is sharing her self-critical thoughts in an open and direct way.
This is not a rupture.
Check minus rating: The patient is making self-critical and/or hopeless statements, and it is
unclear whether this constitutes a withdrawal from the therapist and/or the work of therapy.
18
In a confrontation, the patient is moving against the therapist and/or the work of
therapy. Below are descriptions and examples of markers of confrontation ruptures.
Complaints/concerns about the therapist
Patient expresses negative feelings about the therapist. Patient may feel angry,
impatient, distrustful, manipulated, hurt, judged, controlled, rejected, or may feel that
therapist has failed to support, encourage, or respect him/her. The patient may criticize the
therapist’s interpersonal style, or express doubts about the therapist’s competence. If the
patient says or implies that the therapist does not understand the patient, or is ineffective as a
therapist, then code it here.
For most patients, it is very difficult to criticize a therapist directly. If you get any sense
of a hint of negative feelings for the therapist, code it.
P: I was thinking about some of the things that you said last week. I wasn’t very happy about
them. Not so much what you said, actually, more the way you said them. You were pushing me
into a corner. I wouldn’t have thought that was the way to go about helping people.
P: I feel like you are opening me up and exploring every inch of my insides. It’s really, really, really
uncomfortable.
T: And the air force?
P: (testily) The navy, doctor, listen.
P: I can see I’m not gonna get anything useful out of you.
P: This is not for me. All this “what do you feel, what do you think?” I asked you something. I came
to you to consult about something very clear and specific.
P: I can’t communicate with you.
P: I just kind of resented, you know, when you came at me like that. Why didn’t you just stop me?
Complaint/concern about therapist with “nice” patients: Complaints/concerns about the
therapist are often expressed in a hostile manner, but hostility is not necessary for this code.
Complaints/concerns can also be expressed in a subtle, polite way by “nice” patients. They may
appear in conjunction with a withdrawal rupture (e.g., concern expressed with a smile, so that
it is both complaint/concern therapist and content/affect split). These mixed codes
(withdrawal and confrontation) should be captured by coding both confrontation and
withdrawal markers in the same time segment.
P: So, first, I wanted (chuckle), after the last session, I felt like, I don’t know if that was the
intention or not, but I felt like you were trying to tell me that I need to take more responsibility.
(smiling).
Content/affect split, complaint therapist—the patient is telling the therapist “You made
Confrontation Rupture Markers
19
me feel criticized.”
Complaint/concern about therapist vs. self-assertion: Helping patients to express concerns
about the therapist and/or the work of therapy can be a step toward healthy self-assertion and
part of the process of repairing an alliance rupture. When this is happening, it is important to
distinguish between markers of confrontation ruptures and self-assertion. Pay attention to the
degree of hostility. Thinking about how affiliation is rated on the SASB (e.g., Benjamin, 1974
1
)
can be helpful. On the SASB, affiliation is conceptualized as a dimension with poles of
hostility/hate at one end and friendliness/love at the opposite end. At the midpoint of this
dimension is a point of neutrality. When the patient’s concern is expressed with hostility, it is a
confrontation rupture. Generally speaking, a healthy self-assertion will be expressed in a more
neutral way.
Hostile
Neutral
Friendly
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether the patient is expressing negative feelings about the
therapist.
1
Benjamin, L.S. (1974). Structural analysis of social behavior. Psychological Review, 81, 392 425.
Self-assertion:
I’m starting to realize that I
get lost in my own stories.
The next time you see me
doing that, can you stop me?
Complaint about therapist:
You could have stopped me!
Why didn’t you just say
something?
20
Patient rejects therapist intervention
Patient rejects or dismisses the therapist’s intervention. The patient may reject the
therapist’s view or interpretation of the patient and/or the patient’s situation, or the patient
rejects or dismisses the therapist’s efforts to intervene (e.g., therapist tries to offer support and
patient rebuffs therapist in a hostile manner). The patient is attacking and shutting down
something that the therapist is trying to bring to the table. Rejecting a therapist’s question as
irrelevant or inappropriate should be coded here.
If the patient disagrees with, dismisses or rejects a taskan activity that the therapist
wishes the patient to participate in, such as completing a thought record or doing a two-chair
exercisethen rate Complaint/concern about activities.
T: It sounds like you are concerned about him.
P: (hostile tone) No, that is not it at all.
T: When did your insomnia begin?
P: What difference does that make?
T: I thought we could focus some more on your anxiety…That’s the thought I had. I don’t
know if there’s anything in particular that you want to make sure we get to today?
P: (Frowning.) Yeah, I don’t know if it’s anxiety.
Collaboration vs. confrontation: Not every disagreement is a rupture. A patient may disagree
with a therapist’s idea in the context of a collaborative exploration of an issue, as in the
following example:
T: You’ve been under a lot of pressure at work lately. Is there something at work that is contributing to how
you are feeling today?
P: Work was stressing me out a lot last week, but today, no, I don’t think it’s work that is causing my anxiety.
I think maybe it’s more about what’s going on with my girlfriend…
Note that in the above example, the patient and therapist are working together to identify the
source of the patient’s anxiety. The patient is actively engaged, really considering the
therapist’s idea and taking the therapist’s contribution seriously. If the patient said “no” to
everything the therapist suggested, and you had the feeling that the patient was resisting the
therapist’s efforts, then you would code reject intervention.
In order to determine whether a disagreement is a confrontation rupture, consider the
following questions:
Is the patient engaging with the therapist in the work of therapy (vs. resisting the work
of therapy)?
Are the patient and the therapist on the same page? (If the therapist appears frustrated
or defeated, that is a good sign that a rupture is occurring.)
Does the patient respect the therapist’s ideas and suggestions?
Check minus rating: If it is unclear if the patient is rejecting the therapist’s intervention, or is
thoughtfully considering it. There might be a subtle sense of pushback.
21
Complaints/concerns about the activities of therapy
Patient expresses dissatisfaction, discomfort, or disagreement with specific tasks of
therapy such as homework assignments or in-session tasks such as empty chair or imaginal
exposure. Patients may directly complain about an activity, or they may express their concerns
in a more subtle way by expressing some doubts about the effectiveness of a particular task.
P: I really don’t understand what you’re asking me to do on these thought records. I don’t see the
point of them at all.
P: What is this? Why are we doing this exercise? I feel really uncomfortable right now.
T: That’s the kind of pressure you’re putting on yourself, the kind of stuff you wouldn’t want your
boss to do to you.
P: Yeah. That’s true. (Pause). Do you think this, doing this exercise is going to actually help with
that? (sounds skeptical).
Homework: When a patient reports that he/she did not do the homework, code
complaint/concern about activity. The fact that the patient did not do the homework indicates
a problem in the collaboration between the patient and therapist on the tasks of therapy: the
patient may not agree with the homework, the patient may lack motivation to do the
homework, or the homework may be problematic (e.g., too difficult) for the patient.
The only exception would be the rare instance when the patient agreed with the homework,
was motivated to do the homework, tried to do the homework, but encountered obstacles that
could not have been foreseen (e.g., homework was to practice assertion by speaking up in class
and class was cancelled that week).
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether the patient is expressing concerns/complaints about
activities of therapy.
22
Complaints/concerns about the parameters of therapy
Patient expresses concerns or complaints about the parameters of treatment, such as
the therapy schedule (e.g., appointment times, session length, number and frequency of
sessions) or the research contract (e.g., completing questionnaires, being videotaped).
P: Once a week is not enough. It’s not enough time to address all my problems!
P: I don’t see the point of these questionnaires I have to fill out every week. What do these
questions have to do with me?
P: I can never forget that the camera is there.
Collaboration vs. confrontation: When patients and therapists are trying to schedule a session,
the patient may express concerns about specific dates or times. This may be part of a
collaborative scheduling process in which both parties are comfortable being honest and clear
about what they realistically can do. To determine whether a patient’s concern about certain
dates or times is part of collaborative discussion or is a complaint/concern about parameters,
consider the following questions:
Is the patient not really trying to find a time to meet?
Is the patient putting up roadblocks to every suggestion the therapist makes?
Is the patient inflexible?
Does the patient seem not to want to meet with the frequency the therapist thinks is
appropriate?
If yes, then code complaint/concern about parameters.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether the patient is expressing concerns/complaints about
the parameters of treatment.
23
Complaints/concerns about progress in therapy
Patient expresses complaints, concerns, or doubts about the progress that can be made
or has been made in therapy.
P: I’ve been coming here for four weeks now, and I really can’t think of anything that has changed.
Maybe this has all been a waste of time.
P: As I told you, I have the feeling we are going in circles.
P: I think I want to quit.
P: Yeah. (Sounds a little unsure). I think I’ve made some progress.
In the example above, the patient’s tone and affect revealed her doubts about her progress.
This example should be coded as a combination of confrontation (complaint about progress)
and withdrawal (deferential) because the patient is dissatisfied with her progress, but reluctant
to clearly state that for fear of upsetting the therapist. If the patient’s tone and affect had been
less clear, this could be coded as a check minus. Alternatively, if the patient said this in a
straightforward way and was communicating that she really felt that she had made some
progress and was pleased, then this would not be a rupture.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether the patient is expressing complaints/concerns/doubts
about his/her progress in therapy.
24
Patient defends self against therapist
Patient defends his/her thoughts, feelings, or behavior against what he/she perceives to
be the therapist’s criticism or judgment of the patient. The patient makes a case to support,
validate, and defend his/her behavior, beliefs, feelings, decisions, etc. Note that the therapist
does not have to actually criticize the patient for the patient to anticipate or perceive criticism
and become defensive. Also, what patients regard as critical can be idiosyncratic. One patient
may regard being called “career-focused” a compliment, while another patient becomes
defensive because he/she regards it as criticism.
Patients who insist that they do not meet criteria for diagnoses or that they do not need
treatment are usually defending themselves against a perceived criticism or judgment.
T: That makes a lot of sense.
P: Of course it does! I’m not an idiot!
P: But I think it’s normal for people to change. I’m going through a transitional period. So I have
new ideas about what would help me get through this situation. It doesn’t necessarily mean
that I am unstable.
T: That’s the interesting thing, you always come in and you tell me that you’re always listening and
you always follow me.
P: And I do exactly what you suggest all the time.
T: That’s the funny thing, because you do lots of things that I never suggested.
P: My life is more complex. I did exactly what you suggested. Taking a look back, I did everything
that you suggested, but it didn’t help our relationship.
There are instances when a patient sounds very defensive, but it is unclear against whom the
patient is defending him or herself. In the following example, the patient gets very animated
talking about her boyfriend:
P: It was like he didn’t understand…I had to keep up my separate household. How do you do
that? How do you do that? I can’t do this stuff during the day….
If the coder believes that this patient is not only defending herself against her boyfriend,
but is also trying to make her case to the therapist because she thinks he might share the
boyfriend’s views, then code Patient defends self. If it seems likely that the patient is only
defending herself against her boyfriend, or her own inner critic, but there is a small possibility
that she is in some ways trying to defend herself against the therapist, then code check minus.
The SASB coding system can be a helpful guide here as well. Patient defends self is
trying to capture behaviors that are toward the hostile end of the affiliation dimension, as
opposed to the neutral point of the dimension, which is more likely a healthy place of self-
assertion.
Hostile
Neutral
Friendly
Patient freely asserts
self.
Patient perceives therapist
as critical, accusatory,
blaming.
Patient defends self,
justifies self, whines, sulks.
25
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether the patient is defending him/herself against the
therapist. If the patient is highly defensive, even if the defensiveness seems to be directed
toward someone other than the therapist, give at least a check minusmost likely on some
level, the patient’s defense is partly aimed at the therapist.
26
Efforts to control/pressure the therapist
Patient attempts to control the therapist and/or the session (e.g., patient tells the
therapist what to do or what not to do), or the patient puts pressure on the therapist to fix the
patient’s problems quickly. Trying to push or provoke the therapist should be coded here.
While watching a segment, if you can imagine feeling very pressured if you were the therapist,
then consider this code.
T: And you do need to tell your parents.
P: Just stop it.
T: Your cancer is at stage three.
P: Stop it, stop it, stop it!
P: Tell me what my problem is and what I need to do.
T: So why have you come to see me?
P: Whoa, we’ll get to that. Now, you’re probably thinking… [Patient goes on to dominate the
discussion and makes no space for the therapist to participate.]
P: I’m tired of wasting time. I want to know how this therapy works. Tell me how it’s going to help
me with my problems. And none of that fancy therapist talk; I want a direct answer.
A long-time patient (who is himself a therapist, and who often engages in power struggles with his
therapist) arrives at the session and sits in the therapist’s chair.
T: That’s where I sit.
P: Oh, yes, of course. Patient gets up and moves to the other chair.
The session of Gloria with Rogers is a good example of a more subtle form of
control/pressure. The excerpt below is one of many times Gloria asks Rogers for an answer.
She is never completely direct—she hedges a little (“almost”) and smiles in a forced way. There
is a sense of desperation and pleading, which puts pressure on the therapist.
P: And I wantI almost want an answer from you. I want you to tell me if it would affect her
wrong if I told her the truth, or what.
Control/pressure can also take the form of sexually charged, flirtatious patient
behaviors that feel intrusive and demanding to the therapist. Do not automatically code all
flirtatious behavior or all examples of erotic transference. The key for this code is the patient’s
effort to put pressure on or exert power over the therapist. For example, if a patient says the
following to a female therapist:
P: That’s a really pretty skirt you have on today.
The above statement may feel like a friendly, well-meaning compliment from a grandmotherly
patient, but may feel intrusive and intimidating from a domineering male patient who often
makes sexually inappropriate comments about his female employees. The latter would
constitute an example of control/pressure.
27
Collaboration vs. confrontation: Patients can directly tell therapists what they need from them
in a collaborative way. In order to distinguish between frank collaboration and
control/pressure, consider the following questions:
Is the patient expressing his/her needs to the therapist in a sincere, direct way, or is the
patient trying to compel (e.g., with hostile force or fawning flattery) the therapist to do
what the patient wants?
Does the patient legitimate the therapist’s freedom to decline the patient’s request?
Does the patient seem so intimidating or so desperate that the therapist will have a
hard time saying no?
If yes, code control/pressure.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether the patient is pressuring or attempting to control the
therapist.
28
Resolutions strategies are therapists’ attempts to repair a rupture. Below are
descriptions and examples of resolution strategies.
Therapist clarifies a misunderstanding
Therapist responds to a rupture by attempting to clarify a misunderstanding. Generally,
the resolution effort stops here; the therapist does not go on to explore the underlying
significance of the misunderstanding or to try to link it to the patient’s core themes.
T: You seem a little distant right now.
P: Well, I guess I was a little bothered about what you said about how I should apologize to my
sister.
T: No, no, I said that I think your sister should apologize to you.
P: Oh (smiling). I must have misheard you…
P: (nervously) I guess I can try reaching out to them.
T: It’s worth trying out, to see how it makes you feel to share more with them. I don’t want you to
misunderstand and think that I’m saying call them and just pour it out and say, this is what’s
going on in my life!
T: It sounds like you clicked with CBT
P: No! I was assigned to CBT, that’s totally different.
T: What I’m saying by “you click with it is that you seem to like it.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is trying to resolve a rupture by
clarifying a misunderstanding. For example, the therapist may be clarifying something, but it is
unclear whether or not this explanation is in response to a rupture.
Resolution Strategies
29
Therapist changes tasks or goals
The therapist changes the tasks or goals of therapy in response to a rupture. The
therapist may change the task/goal in order to address the concerns of a patient who is
complaining (confrontation rupture). Or the therapist may change the task/goal in an effort to
engage a withdrawn patient. Changing the task can include modifying the task in order to make
it more palatable for the patient.
P: We’re getting off track again. I don’t think this is getting us anywhere.
T: I’m willing to follow your lead right now. What direction would you like to go in?
P: It’s hard to talk about my mom. (Patient goes quiet.)
T: So how are things at work? You were going to meet with your boss to ask about a raise, right?
T: Today’s our 15th session, so we’re about the middle of our treatment. So today I was interested
in reflecting back on your main concerns, the things you wanted to work on when you first came
in, see how things are going so far, and also planning what we’re going to do moving forward.
And then I’d like to hear about how the homeworks went. Does that sound good? Do you have
anything else you want to add to the agenda?
P: (Tight smile). I have a whole list of things. So much happened since last time. I wrote it down
and I wanted to talk to you about. Content/affect split and check minus reject intervention
patient is subtly telling the therapist “no”
T: OK, so we can do two things. We can either assess the midphase today, or we can put that off
until next week and work mostly on this stuff if there’s a lot of stuff going on.
P: That sounds good.
T: OK, so then next week we’ll talk about where we’ve come.
P: I don’t relate to it. It just doesn’t seem the kind of thing that’s useful to me, that even relates to
me. Complaint activity
T: So what do you feel like doesn’t relate to you? Invite thoughts/feelings
P: Well, (looks at thought record) distressing physical sensations, I’ve never had that.
T: OK, that doesn’t need to apply.
P: Thoughts and images through my mind—I’m not the kind of person who thinks in images I
don’t know.
T: OK, that’s also something that can be sort of removed from this. Maybe it’s easier to just cross
those things out.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is changing the task/goal in
response to a rupture, or if the therapist is simply doing therapy (e.g., therapist is unaware of a
rupture and is moving on to the next item on the agenda).
P: It’s hard to talk about my mom (goes quiet).
T: (Nods). Well, I think we’re done setting the agenda, should we review the homework?
30
Therapist illustrates tasks or provides a rationale for
treatment
The therapist responds to a rupture by illustrating, explaining, or providing a rationale
for a therapy task or goal. The therapist may share his/her reasons for pursuing a particular
therapy task, in an effort to engage the patient or to alleviate the patient’s concerns.
Sometimes this may be in the form of reframing the meaning of tasks or goals in a way that is
more appealing to the patient.
Do not code if the therapist is simply explaining a task as part of the regular process of
treatmentfor example, if the therapist is introducing a thought record for the first time and is
explaining how to do it and why it would be helpful. If it is not clear whether or not the
therapist is responding to a rupture or “just doing therapy”, follow this guideline: the first time
the therapist explains a task, it is most likely “just therapy.” If the therapist explains the task a
second time, or keeps expanding on his/her original explanation, that increases the likelihood
that the therapist is responding to a rupture of some kind (e.g., a sense that the patient is not
agreeing with the task).
T: I’d like to spend some time trying to understand what’s going on between us right now. My
hope is that this type of exploration may provide us with some clues as to what may go on for
you in your relationship with other people.
A patient is reluctant to complete a homework assignment that involves increasing social contact
because he fears rejection. The therapist reframes the assignment as “putting yourself into the anxiety-
provoking situation in order to self-monitor your cognitive processes.”
T: I’d be interested in exploring it because I learn as much as you do too. It helps me understand
what’s happening between us.
P: I just felt like, is that an issue? Is it?
T: I guess I did see it as an issue that we could explore. Maybe you like to see me as older, maybe
that is comforting to you? That’s kind of where I was going with that.
T: It may be frustrating to have to carry these thought records around with you, but it may be
really helpful to just have them in moments when you’re so overwhelmed.
T: I do think that you are suffering from some kind of anxiety. And the only way I know to alleviate
your symptoms is to figure out what’s causing that anxiety. And the only way I know how to do
that is to talk.
T: You see, one thing that concerns me is, uh…It’s no good you doing something that you
haven’t really chosen to do. That’s why I am trying to help you find out what your own inner
choices are.
Check minus rating: If it is unclear whether the therapist is illustrating a task/providing a
rationale in response to a rupture, or is simply doing therapy.
31
The therapist invites the patient to discuss thoughts or
feelings about the therapist or some aspect of therapy
The therapist responds to a rupture by inviting the patient to express negative or
vulnerable thoughts or feelings about the therapist and/or the tasks or goals of therapy. For
example, the therapist may encourage a confrontational patient to expand upon his/her
negative feelings about a therapy task, or the therapist may observe that a patient is quiet and
withdrawn and may ask him/her to voice his/her concerns directly.
This code really involves two parts: the therapist recognizes that a rupture is occurring,
and then tries to initiate some exploration of the rupture with the patient.
Do not code every time the therapist asks the patient what he/she is thinking or feeling.
Just checking in to make sure the patient is still in agreement is not acknowledging and
exploring a rupture. For example, do not code if the therapist is simply following CBT protocol
and asking for feedback at the end of the session. Do code if the therapist is asking for
feedback in the context of a rupture (e.g., “We had a challenging session today. We didn’t
really agree about the thought record. How are you feeling about it now?”)
P: I’m feeling a little irritated, but it’s not a big deal.
T: I understand that you’re uncertain about how important your concerns are. But if you’re willing
to go into it, I’d be interested in hearing more.
T: I’d like to talk about the thoughts you are having about it, specifically, this isn’t going to work…?
T: So are you feeling in general frustrated with this whole thing, the thought record?
P: Yeah (slight smile) Minimal response and check minus content/affect split
T: So, can you say more about that? What is frustrating about it?
T: Are you experiencing me as angry right now?
T: So did you feel that we weren’t communicating with each other?
Therapists often invite thoughts/feelings by asking questions. However, they can also invite
making observations that function to encourage the patient to elaborate about his/her
concerns about the therapist or the therapy. For example:
T: It almost sounds like maybe you felt like you were in trouble, maybe you weren’t doing things
right.
P: Yeah.
T: Like I was disappointed.
P: Yeah. I was in trouble. That was the feeling.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is inviting the patient to express
negative or vulnerable thoughts/feelings about the therapist and/or the therapy. The therapist
may be simply acknowledging that the patient has negative thoughts or feelings, not clearly
inviting and encouraging the patient to explore them. Or it may not be clear that the patient’s
concerns are related to the therapist and/or the therapy.
32
The therapist acknowledges his/her contribution to a rupture
The therapist acknowledges his/her contribution to a rupture. For example, the
therapist acknowledges the ways in which he/she may be frustrating, confusing, or upsetting
the patient and thereby harming their bond or hindering their work together. The therapist
may acknowledge how he/she contributed to a rupture earlier in the session or in a prior
session, how he/she is contributing to a rupture that is occurring right now, or the therapist
may predict, based on past ruptures, that his/her next response will contribute to a new
rupture.
T: I could see how this could be frustrating for you. You’re asking me for a direct answer and I
keep putting the ball back in your court
T: OK, I want to stay with this for a moment because it’s possible maybe I was unclear, or without
realizing it, gave you certain signals or messages.
T: I have to admit, in this moment, I feel a little accusatory…
T: I’m sure this will sound evasive to you.
T: You know, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, what happened last time, I have two thoughts about
it, see what you think. One is that I need to take some responsibility for not making your
environment here safe, that things got farther and more emotional and more painful, um, then
they needed to be and that, um, there were some mistakes that I made.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is acknowledging his/her
contribution to a rupture.
33
The therapist discloses his/her internal experience of the
patient-therapist interaction
In the context of a rupture, the therapist discloses his/her internal experience of the
patient-therapist interaction.
Do not code every time a therapist shares what he/she thinks or feels. Many therapists
are in the habit of prefacing many statements with phrases like “I am wondering…” or “I feel
like…” Only code when the therapist is sharing his/her thoughts or feelings about the patient-
therapist interaction when the patient is confronting or withdrawing. The therapist may share
his/her perception of their interaction (e.g., “I feel like we are caught in a power struggle”). The
therapist may share negative feelings, like frustration or anxiety. Or the therapist may reassure
an anxious patient by disclosing his/her positive feelings.
T: I’m trying to answer your question, but I get the sense that nothing I say to you will be satisfying
right now. I’m concerned I will antagonize you further if I continue to try.
T: I feel like walking on ice here…
T: Yeah, so, I think just as it was difficult--You felt like I didn’t understand you, I felt like, you know,
every time, not every time, but sometimes when I brought certain things up and made some
suggestions or maybe asked, you know like I said, presented a different point of view from the
point of view that you had, oftentimes you were not really absorbing, taking in what I was
saying.
T: I have to be honest with you. I’m a little angry with you. As a therapist that’s not something
that’s comfortable to feel.
T: But I also had a feeling that there may have been a reason that you were saying, you know, so
much and maybe keeping me away because if we picked at something, you were going to go to
an emotional place.
P: Yeah. I was in trouble. That was the feeling. A lot of times with people I feel like I did
something wrong.
T: Well I’m really glad that you were able to bring that up, that’s awesome, that’s total
assertiveness right there. The other thing is, I’m not disappointed. So I just want to put that
out there. I don’t think you’re doing a bad job or being lazy. I think you’re doing a great job on
homework. I feel like you’re really taking this seriously.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is disclosing his/her internal
experience in the context of a rupture. It may be unclear that the therapist is responding to a
rupture. Or the therapist may not be clearly revealing his/her internal experience, but rather
only hinting at it.
T: I’m getting the sense from you that there’s a lot that you’re holding onto, and it sounds like
there’s no way to bounce it off of anyone. Therapist is aware that the patient is holding things
in and is reluctant to share. However, the therapist does not clearly disclose her experienceshe
does not say, for example, “there’s a lot you’re holding back from me.
34
Therapist links the rupture to larger interpersonal patterns
between the patient and the therapist
Therapist links a rupture to larger interpersonal patterns between the patient and the
therapist. With this strategy, the therapist notes how the rupture that is occurring now is
similar to other ruptures that have occurred in this dyad (e.g., “I think we’re doing it again”).
The patient has difficulty articulating what she wants to focus on in the session, and criticizes herself for
being confused and disorganized. The therapist observes how the patient often blames herself for any
misunderstandings that arise between them.
In some cases, the patient is the first one to observe such a pattern. If the therapist then picks
up on the patient’s idea and agrees with it or elaborates on it, then you can still code this
strategy, as in the example below:
P: I’ve never gotten that kind of feedback from someone. It makes me think about other situations. Is that
maybe how I’m skewing some other interactions with people?
T: You know, it’s delicate, because I’m sure you’re not always skewing everything and I don’t want you to
not trust your instincts. Lots of times our instincts are telling us useful information. But at times when
you’re feeling maybe not as confident, maybe a little more delicate, you may be more likely to pull for
stuff like that.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is linking a rupture to larger
interpersonal patterns between the patient and therapist.
35
Therapist links the rupture to larger interpersonal patterns in
the patient’s other relationships
Therapist links a rupture to larger interpersonal patterns in the patient’s other
relationships. This code will encompass manybut not alltransference interpretations in a
psychodynamic therapy. This code may also be appropriate for some discussions of core beliefs
in CBT. The link has to be made in the context of a rupturethe link functions to draw
attention to and/or invite exploration of a rupture.
The therapist can start by acknowledging a rupture and then note a parallel with an
outside relationship, or the therapist can start with an observation about an outside
relationship and then draw a parallel with a rupture in therapy. The patient can be the first to
make the link, as long as the therapist then agrees with or expands on what the patient said.
The patient has difficulty asking the therapist for a different session time. The therapist links this to the
patient’s lack of assertiveness in her relationships with her family and co-workers.
T: Well, speaking of what you were just saying about the reasons why you never developed some
of these important, close friendships, around this idea of being understood, it sounds like some
time in the process since we last saw each other, there was this question of how much I
understood you.
P: And that problem came up when I was in physical therapy.
T: Is it coming up here with cognitive therapy?
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is linking a rupture to larger
interpersonal patterns in the patient’s other relationships.
36
Therapist validates the patient’s defensive posture
Therapist responds to a rupture by validating the patient’s defensive posture. The
therapist allies with the resistance: instead of challenging the patient’s defensive behaviors, the
therapist validates the ways in which they are understandable and adaptive. This is more than
just reflecting back the patient’s own explanations for his/her behavior—this involves
communicating that the patient’s position is legitimate and valid. The therapist may validate a
patient’s complaints or concerns, or a therapist may validate a patient’s withdrawal, as in the
following example:
A patient cries in session, and then becomes self-conscious and begins to speak in a distant,
intellectualized fashion. The therapist observes that the patient now seems distant from her pain, and
says, “Perhaps it’s adaptive for you to have some distance from it right now.”
P: (critical tone) You also seemed like really stressed about being late, and you know, that was
something you know like that just didn’t, just wasn’t an issue for me. And I don’t know, I don’t
know why that bothered you so much.
T: So you observing my emotion and commenting on it is exactly what we want to be doing for one
thing. And you’re right about everything you said.
P: You will never understand me. I cannot express myself so it’s much better to quit.
T: Actually, I appreciate your honesty, and if you want to quit of course that’s your choice.
T: And let me know if you have any other questions, too, like if it doesn’t make sense. I’m glad
that you came in and—some people might come in and say, ‘oh yeah, I like the thought record’
even though they hate it.
P: (smiling) Oh, OK, oh that’s not my style.
T: No, it’s great! I’m very happy that, you know, you’re telling me exactly how it’s going and what
you think because there’s no point if you don’t like it.
Check minus rating: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is validating the patient’s
defensive posture. For example, the therapist validates the patient, but it is unclear whether or
not this validation is in response to a rupture.
37
Therapist responds to a rupture by redirecting or refocusing
the patient
When the patient moves away from the tasks of therapy, e.g., by telling avoidant
stories, the therapist responds to the rupture by redirecting him/her back to the task at hand,
or by refocusing him/her on the present moment.
[Session began with a focus on the patient’s anxiety, which was one of his presenting problems. Patient
began talking at length about going to clubs to hear music. Patient is not engaging with the therapist at
all and seems to be avoiding the tasks of therapythis is a withdrawal, Avoidant storytelling.]
P: It’s really hard to find a club that has consistently good music without having to pay through the
nose.
T: Yeah.
P: And not having to buy a drink, which sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It’s like, if I’m going
to listen to this music, I’m going to have to get a pint of beer and I’m not in the mood for a pint
of beer.
T: Right.
P: I’d rather leave my system alone.
T: Yeah, OK, I hatenot to change pace too much, but I know that the last time we met, you had a
lot of doctor’s appointments, a lot of health concerns. Is that contributing to your anxiety right
now? (The therapist attempts to stop the patient’s avoidant storytelling by redirecting the
patient back to the task of therapy, discussion of his anxiety.)
P: They were huge for me, it was like he didn’t understand. The thing is, we lived two doors apart,
and that was like a big mistake so there was an expectation both on his part so really what it
was doing was that we lived together but at the same time there was I had to keep up my
separate household. How can you do that? How do you do that? Laundry, letters, I can’t do this
stuff during the day, you know, going out, buying cards. I’m a woman. It takes me an hour to
get ready and I’m not even high maintenance. I was looking like a slob. I have a living animal in
my house, you know, that I have to take care of. I take the responsibility of a pet seriously! I
made a commitment to her, and it isn’t like I put her before himIn reality, of course, I do.
Does he have to know that? Nobut she still has to get walked and taken care of
T: So let’s check in with how you’re feeling right now. What are you feeling now?
In this vignette, the therapist is not trying to expand the discussion of the patient’s feelings about a
rupture (which would be an example of invite thoughts/feelings). Rather, the therapist is trying to rein
the patient in and bring her focus back to the present moment.
Check minus: It is unclear whether or not the therapist is redirecting/refocusing the patient in
response to a rupture, or whether the therapist is simply doing therapy.
38
Below are some guidelines for deciding between two or three rupture or resolution
marker codes that coders sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between.
Deferential vs. minimal response
If the patient is just being quiet and seems withdrawncode minimal response.
If the patient is nodding, agreeing with the therapist, and seems at least superficially
engaged, trying to be a good patientthen code deferential.
If the patient is giving very brief, minimal responses and behaving deferentially (e.g.,
quiet nods, smiles), then code both deferential and minimal response.
Denial vs. deferential
If the patient denies feeling upset at the therapist, when the patient seems to actually
be upset (e.g., “I’m not upset!”), code denial.
If the same patient then goes on to say that he/she has very positive feelings toward the
therapist or therapy (e.g., “I’m very happy with how therapy is going”), code deferential.
Avoidant storytelling vs. abstract communication
If the patient talks about the experiences of other peoplespecific peoplein an effort
to avoid talking about him/herself, code avoidant storytelling.
If the patient talks about the experiences of people in generalpeople in the abstract
in an effort to avoid talking about him/herself, code abstract communication.
Denial vs. reject intervention
If the patient’s response is best characterized as an attempt to move away from the
therapist or the task of therapyto avoid something painful, to avoid conflictthen
code denial.
If the patient’s response is best characterized as an attempt to move against the
therapistto show the therapist that he/she is wrong, to put the therapist in his/her
place, to assert the patient’s independence from or superiority over the therapist by
saying that the therapist’s idea is wrong—then code reject intervention.
If the patient seems to be doing bothsimultaneously trying to avoid and trying to
move against the therapistthen code both denial and reject intervention.
Reject intervention vs. Complaint/concern therapist vs. complaint activity
If the patient’s response is focused on the therapist’s intervention—the interpretation is
wrong, the assessment is inaccurate, the question is the wrong question to askthen
code reject intervention.
If the patient’s response is focused on the person of the therapist—the therapist is
incompetent or misguided or confused or confusingthen code complaint/concern
therapist.
Rupture/Resolution Marker Differential Diagnosis
39
If the patient’s response is focused on a specific activity—homework, an in-session
exercise such as two-chairthen code complaint activity.
Note that the patient may do all of the above in a single time segment.
Patient defends self vs. reject intervention:
If the patient’s response is focused on making a case for him/herself—I didn’t do
anything wrong, it’s not my fault, I did the best I couldthen code patient defends self.
If the patient’s response is focused on criticizing or dismissing or attacking the
therapist’s position—your idea is wrongthen code reject intervention.
Reject intervention vs. denial vs. defends self
You said that I have a problem with depression. That is not true. Reject intervention
I am not depressed. Denial
I am dealing with a lot at work, and anybody in this situation would feel stressed.
Patient defends self
Self-critical vs. reject intervention vs. concern/complaint therapist
If the patient is giving up on the therapist or the therapy because the patient feels
he/she cannot be helped—I’m too depressed, too lazy, too weak—then code self-
critical.
If the patient says the therapist cannot help the patient because the therapist’s
intervention is flawed, insufficient, irrelevantthen code reject intervention.
Help-rejecting patients who reject the therapist’s suggestions AND convey a sense of
hopelessness, of giving up on the therapy can present with a combination of BOTH self-
critical and reject intervention (mixed codes).
If the patient says the therapist cannot help the patient because the therapist is
incompetent, inexperienced, a poor matchthen code concern/complaint therapist.
Mixed codesboth confrontation and withdrawal
Ruptures can include elements of both confrontation and withdrawal, and when this
occurs, both should be coded.
As noted above, help-rejecting patients may present with both reject formulation and
self-critical/helpless markers.
Patients who are uncomfortable criticizing the therapist may present with a
confrontation marker (e.g., complaint therapist, complaint progress) in combination
with a withdrawal marker. For example, the patient may smile or laugh nervously
(content/affect split) while voicing a complaint, or the patient may try to soften the
complaint by expressing it in an indirect or veiled way in an effort to avoid conflict with
the therapist (deferential).
Disclose internal experience vs. acknowledge contribution
Whenever the therapist acknowledges how he/she may be contributing to a rupture,
code acknowledge contribution.
40
If the therapist also shares how he/she experiences the rupture with the patient
his/her thoughts and feelings about their interaction, about how they work together
then also code disclose internal experience.
Invite thoughts/feelings vs. Redirect/Refocus
If the therapist is trying to explore the patient’s feelings about a rupture—to expand the
discussionthen code invite thoughts/feelings.
The therapist is trying to stop a patient who is withdrawing from the task of therapy,
perhaps by telling avoidant storiesto rein in the discussioncode redirect/refocus.
41
The following examples, based on actual sessions with patients in our research program,
as well as excerpts from episodes of the American HBO television show In Treatment and from
the “Gloria” session with Carl Rogers (Three Approaches to Psychotherapy), may be helpful for
reference and for training purposes.
In Treatment, Alex, Session 1
T:
It’s interesting that you compare the death of your
mother with this mission that you’ve just flown.
P:
That’s very clever of you.
Complaint therapist
But there’s no relation whatsoever.
Reject intervention
My mother’s death was the most traumatic event of
my life so far.
That mission was just another mission for Alex.
Denial
In Treatment, Alex, Session 1
T:
Maybe I didn’t make myself clear earlier on, when I
was talking about the customer always being wrong.
Acknowledge contribution
What I meant was that sometimes the patient hides
things from his therapist, from himself.
Clarify misunderstanding
And so part of our job is to uncover the things that we
hide.
Illustrate task/rationale
In Treatment, Alex, Session 1
T:
And what does [your wife] think of all this?
P:
What’s she got to do with it?
Reject intervention
T:
Don’t you talk things over with your wife?
P:
You know what?
Topic shift
This is not for me. All this “what do you feel, what do
you think?” I asked you something. I came to you to
consult about something very clear and specific.
Reject intervention and
Complaint therapist
Gloria with Rogers, C15
P:
I have a feeling that you are just going to sit there and
let me stew in it.
(laughs)
Complaint therapist
Content/affect split
Coding Examples
42
and I-I want more. I want you to help me get rid of my
guilty feeling.
Control/pressure
L 9, 0-5 minutes
T:
I thought we could focus some more on your anxiety…
That’s the thought I had. I don’t know if there’s
anything in particular that you want to make sure we
get to today?
P:
(Frowning.) Yeah I don’t know if it’s anxiety.
Reject intervention
I noticed some thought patterns that may be
problematic.
T:
OK, great.
P:
I don’t think I have an identity confusion. I think it’s
just I’m in a very extreme situation that—maybe my
self-esteem is not as strong.
Patient defends self
T:
So let’s talk about that. I’m curious hearing you say
that. I don’t know that I have a clear idea of what I
was thinking in terms of talking about identity. I’m
wondering what you thought I was saying about your
identity.
Invite thoughts/feelings
Acknowledge contribution
P:
Well, the fact that you asked me to do the wheel
[exercise] obviously implies that I don’t know myself
or that I’m unclear about certain things, but that’s
untrue. I just can’t even think about such things when
I’m under such stress.
Patient defends self
I was just confused by the exercise and I don’t know
why I needed to do it.
Complaint activities
T:
So you felt that the exercise was
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Well, I felt that you thought that I’m confused about
who I am. Or I’m unclear, maybe have too much of a
negative self-image. Which I don’t think is true.
Because I do see many positives in my situation and in
myself. I think a lot of it is exacerbated by the
situation.
Patient defends self
T:
So what thoughts came up when doing the exercise?
Invite thoughts/feelings
43
[Discuss patient’s thoughts around exercise.]
P:
You assumed (tone is critical)
Complaint therapist
that I’ve changed very quickly from last time to this
time. But I think it’s normal for people to change. I’m
going through a transitional period. So I have new
ideas about what would help me get through this
situation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I am
unstable.
Patient defends self
T:
OK, I want to stay with this for a moment because it’s
possible maybe I was unclear, or without realizing it,
gave you certain signals or messages.
Acknowledge contribution
I just want to make sure I’m clear. So when you had
this idea that I said that you had changed drastically,
when was that?
Invite thoughts/feelings
L 9, 10-15 minutes
P:
You mentioned that I’m career-focused, or that
there’s a lot of focus on success? And that’s not—
maybe it comes off this way, but I’m not focusedI
don’t want to be this brilliant inventor or anything like
that.
Reject intervention, check
minuspatient is pushing
back against therapist’s view
of her, but is also trying to
help the therapist understand
her better.
What I mean by success is that I need to be able to
support myself, like some level of independence and
some level of security. That’s all. And it’s perceived
negatively by society that for two and a half years I’ve
been looking for a job, even though the economy’s
bad—people who are working, they don’t think this
way.
Patient defends self, check
minuspatient perceives the
therapist’s description of her
as “career-focused” as
criticism, and she is defending
herself against that.
However, she is doing so in a
somewhat collaborative way.
Her comment about the bad
economy is also somewhat
defensive.
And I think it tags onto my core feelings about myself,
like oh, I’m not going to be able to handle it. I notice
now when I’m applying for positions that I still have
that core feeling. Which is good because I’m now
aware of it, when before I wasn’t. So I definitely think
Complaint activities, check
minusPatient is expressing
negative feelings about an
activity, but in an honest way
that is moving in the direction
44
that I’m benefiting from this. But there were a lot of
negative feelings around this exercise.
of collaboration.
T:
Yeah, which is really important. It seems like
P:
Maybe it was a good exercise (nervous laugh).
Deferential, check minus, and
content/affect split, check
minuspatient believes, at
least partly, that the exercise
had some benefits. But she is
also trying to back away from
her criticism in order to mend
things with the therapist.
T:
Well, speaking of what you were just saying about the
reasons why you never developed some of these
important, close friendships, around this idea of being
understood, it sounds like some time in the process
since we last saw each other, there was this question
of how much I understood you
Therapist links pattern in
patient’s other relationships
to a rupture between them.
and maybe I was a bit off or giving you an exercise
that didn’t make a lot of sense?
Acknowledge contribution
P:
Yeah, right.
T:
So what actually came out of doing this exercise?
Invite thoughts/feelings
L 9, 15-20
P:
That’s basically intelligence. And I attacked that part.
I doubted my intelligence. Like, maybe I’m just stupid
because I’m having all these problems. So am I really
a thinking type? Maybe I’m sensing. I don’t think
things through. Because I always test as thinking, but
then I thought, well these tests are subjective. So
maybe I don’t know who I am.
Patient is not withdrawing
she is sharing her self-critical
thoughts in an open and
direct way. This is not a
rupture.
T:
So what were your thoughts around that?
Therapist is not resolving
anythinghe is simply
following CBT protocol.
P:
That I’m really stupid, and I don’t know why I thought
that. I don’t think anyone has ever questioned my
Again, patient sharing her
self-critical thoughts, not
45
intelligence. I always got everything very easily in
school. Why do I doubt my intelligence? Maybe it’s
behavior, some behaviors that aren’t intelligent.
engaging in a self-critical
withdrawal.
T:
Right, so, let’s think about this, what is the evidence
that you are not intelligent?
Therapist simply doing CBT,
not resolving a rupture.
L 10, 25-35
Patient and therapist discussing patient’s sense of loneliness. Patient mentions several friends
and acquaintances, but for each one, provides a reason why she cannot turn to them for
support.
T:
Are there other people in your life that we can get you
connected with?
P:
Um…(long pause)---it’s hard because the friends I’ve
made here, they’re not people that I really want to
open up to. They’re not people I think would give
good advice. It’s more of an informal, social
friendship than in my proper friends back home. I
haven’t found, you know, really good friends here yet.
Self-critical/hopeless and
reject intervention. Help-
rejecting patients like this can
present with this
combination. Therapist keeps
trying to get patient to
identify someone she can talk
to, and patient rejects the
idea that such a person exists
in her lifebecause she is
hopeless that her situation
can be improved.
T:
I’m getting the sense from you that there’s a lot that
you’re holding onto, and it sounds like there’s no way
to bounce it off of anyone.
Therapist is obliquely noting
that she senses that the
patient is rejecting of all of her
suggestions. The therapist is
aware that a rupture is
occurring, and is sharing that
awarenessalbeit in a
somewhat indirect waywith
the patient. Disclose internal
experience, check minus
P:
Yeah, I think that’s right.
T:
And it can be hard to contain all of that inside, and at
the same time, though, it could be challenging to
Validate defensive posture
46
share it with a lot of people
P:
(weakly) Yeah, yeah.
Patient does not sound like
she really agrees with the
therapist. Deferential.
T:
I think it sounds like your husband is definitely there
for you, but sometimes he’s really preoccupied with
work and busy. I think what we can think about
together is who in your life can we maybe start to talk
to a bit more, you know, be able to share feelings with
or concerns.
Illustrate task/rationale
P:
Yeah….I think…I think this is the problem—because
the friends I do have—I just I don’t know…
T:
What about them makes you not want to share things
with them?
P:
Well, one of my closest friends, she’s a good friend,
but she’s consumed with trying to find a boyfriend, so
she’s well-meaning but not the best listener. But I
think my other friend, maybe Iit sounds weirdI
could try to get close to her.
T:
It’s a process, but I think we can both agree it’s nice to
have that support. What I’m hearing, and you can tell
me if it’s different, is that there isn’t so much of that
right now.
P:
Yeah, totally.
T:
It can be challenging and can increase the feelings of
sadness.
P:
Yeah.
T:
That’s what it sounds like.
P:
I think that’s absolutely right, I totally agree, I 100%
agree.
Deferential
T:
How often do you speak to your in-laws?
47
P:
My husband has been saying I should talk to them
more, and they do give good advice. It’s sort of a bit
daunting to just launch into my problems.
Some push back to therapist’s
suggestioncheck minus
reject intervention
T:
Well, I don’t know that you should launch into your
problems necessarily but, you know, building up a
closer relationship because I’ve heard you talk
positively about them.
Illustrate task/rationale
P:
Yeah. My husband has been saying for months I
should talk to his mom more.
T:
It’s worth trying out, to see how it makes you feel. I
don’t want you to misunderstand and think that I’m
saying call them and just pour it out and say, this is
what’s going on in my life! But building up that type
of
Clarify misunderstanding
P:
Yeah, yeah, ok.
Patient seems to be agreeing
in order to get therapist to
stop talking about this.
Deferential.
T:
Because on those days when your husband isn’t
around and you find yourself feeling overwhelmed
and a bit down, there is someone or several people
you can choose from to pick up the phone and talk to.
Illustrate task/rationale
P:
Yeah, yeah, ok, yeah.
Deferential.
T:
So does that seem
Not enough of an invitation to
really share thoughts and
feelingsmore just a check-
in.
P:
Yeah, I think that’s definitely something I’m going to
talk to my husband about and start reaching out to
people.
Patient’s tone is not
convincing. Deferential.
1326, session 5, 35-40 min
48
T:
That’s the kind of pressure you’re putting on yourself,
the kind of stuff you wouldn’t want your boss to do to
you.
P:
Yeah. That’s true. (Pause). Do you think this, doing
this exercise is going to actually help with that?
(skeptical tone)
Complaint/concern activity
T:
It doesn’t sound like you’re so sure.
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Yeah, I’m not so sure.
T:
I mean, that’s the thing is that, it’s about changing the
way you look at things, and getting used to being able
to give these alternative responses to yourself. Do I
think it works? I think it works really well. Especially if
you can practice and get used to it. Because at first
you don’t even notice these thoughts. They’re going
on in the background, you’re going about your day,
and you don’t even notice. But it sounds like you
noticed, when the time was slow at work, you did
start thinking about those things. So you’re already,
like, kind of picking up on having the thoughts, right?
You’re able to notice the thoughts, right?
Illustrate task/rationale
P:
Yeah. And especially last week when you said
sometimes these thoughts can start in the morning
and affect your whole day, I had a really good example
of that the other day…[gives example]
T:
And imagine how much it would change your day if at
the beginning of the day, you started having these
thoughts and you stopped yourself. And you thought,
why am I getting so overwhelmed with trying to do X,
Y, or Z? And you started having alternative responses
to yourself, like that soothing voice that kind of
reassures you and says that today is going to be fine,
you’re going to be able to get through it, you always
get through it, you’re stronger than you think, and
you’re going to be OK. I would imagine that you might
feel a lot better going into your day, right? And it
might make every reaction that you have to people,
every interaction you have with each person feel
Illustrate task/rationale
49
differently.
P:
(Pause.) I think you’re right.
Deferential
T:
I mean, it’s hard, but I feel very confident that this is
going to help you feel differently. You’re already
catching on so quickly. You’re already identifying
these thoughts, you can already reflect back on them
when you think them. And over time, not only will you
be able to spot those thoughts quickly, you’ll be able
to have an alternative response that you can think of
that’s actually very convincing. Not just, ‘everything’s
going to be ok,’ and you don’t really believe it, but
like, not only is everything going to be ok, but I’m
going to give you some evidence to remind you why
everything is going to be ok.
Illustrate task/rationale
1326, session 15, 0-10 minutes
T:
Today’s our 15th session, so we’re about the middle of
our treatment. So today I was interested in reflecting
back on your main concerns, the things you wanted to
work on when you first came in, see how things are
going so far, and also planning what we’re going to do
moving forward. And then I’d like to hear about how
the homeworks went. Does that sound good? Do you
have anything else you want to add to the agenda?
P:
(Tight smile). I have a whole list of things. So much
happened since last time. I wrote it down and I
wanted to talk to you about it.
Content/affect split and check
minus reject intervention
patient is subtly telling the
therapist “no”
T:
OK, so we can do two things. We can either assess the
midphase today, or we can put that off until next
week and work mostly on this stuff if there’s a lot of
stuff going on.
P:
That sounds good.
T:
OK, so then next week we’ll talk about where we’ve
come.
Change task/goal.
50
So how’s your mood today? On a scale from 1 to 10.
P:
Today…7.
T:
So what’s been going on?
P:
Um, a lot happened this week. Maybe I’ll just give you
a list of things and see what’s the thing to talk about?
T:
Sure
P:
So, first, I wanted (chuckle), after the last session, I felt
like, I don’t know if that was the intention or not, but I
felt like you were trying to tell me that I need to take
more responsibility (smiling). That’s the impression I
left with. Maybe I wasn’t doing my homework, so I
wasn’t taking it seriously, me coming here, and that I
wasn’t challenging myself. Like, I was just coming in
here and it became like a routine. So I took that as,
you want me to do my homework and I need to work
on things and put more effort into this because I’m
not here because someone made me, I’m here
because I wanted to, so to get benefit out of it, I
needed to be more proactive. (laughs)
Content/affect split,
complaint therapistthe
patient is telling the therapist
“You made me feel criticized.”
T:
So a couple of things. First, I’m really glad you were
able to say that, because it’s really hard to say that.
Disclose internal experience,
validate defensive posture
It almost sounds like maybe you felt like you were in
trouble, maybe you weren’t doing things right.
The therapist’s take on this
confirms that “complaint
therapist” was the right code.
P:
Yeah.
T:
Like I was disappointed.
Invite thoughts/feelingsthe
therapist is encouraging the
patient to elaborate on her
complaint/concern.
P:
Yeah. I was in trouble. That was the feeling. A lot of
times with people I feel like I did something wrong.
T:
Well I’m really glad that you were able to bring that
Disclose internal experience
51
up, that’s awesome, that’s total assertiveness right
there. That was a perfect example. The other thing is,
I’m not disappointed. So I just want to put that out
there. I don’t think you’re doing a bad job or being
lazy. But I think it’s really interesting that you’re
pulling that. You know, last week, I was thinking
maybe we need to switch gears and just emphasize
things on that thought record sheet because it
seemed to be really useful to help you organize. I
think that’s why I was shifting gears toward that
because I was realizing also that it really helps you,
but I think you’re doing a great job on homework. I
feel like you’re really taking this seriously. So it’s
interesting. It could be how I came across, it could be
things that you pull from situations. You put a lot of
pressure on yourself. What do you think?
Acknowledge contribution
P:
Well, it’s good to hear you say that, because I think
that I was reading into that, that you were trying to
send me a message, but it was really myself. So it’s
really interesting. I’ve never gotten that kind of
feedback from someone. It makes me think about
other situations. Is that maybe how I’m skewing some
other interactions with people?
T:
You know, it’s delicate, because I’m sure you’re not
always skewing everything and I don’t want you to not
trust your instincts. Lots of times our instincts are
telling us useful information. But at times when
you’re feeling maybe not as confident, maybe a little
more delicate, you may be a more likely to pull for
stuff like that. It kind of fits, you know how we talked
about core beliefs at one point? There are these
things that you believe, deep down inside about
yourself. These are messages that were sent to you
over and over through your lifetime and I think that at
times of ambiguity, at times when you’re not sure
about how to read someone, it may bring up those
things. And one of those things that you have at
times, that you feel about yourself at times is that
you’re a failure, that you’re not working hard enough,
right?
Link to other relationships
the patient made the link, but
then the therapist picked it
up.
P:
Yeah.
52
1326, session 19, 30-35 minutes
T:
It sounds like once you can get things down on a
thought record, you’re able to step away from them
and do some work and it’s not overwhelming and
taking over your day.
P:
Yeah (nods). Absolutely. Yeah, I can come back to it
and it’s more manageable, and I can have a
conversation about it. I’m happy about that (nervous
smile). I’m happy that I’m able to get to that point,
and that I’m getting these results.
Content/affect split and
deferentialpatient seems
ambivalent, simultaneously
pleased and concerned.
T:
You’ve made so much progress. We’re only on session
19 and you’ve come so far. It may be frustrating to
have to carry these kinds of things around with you,
but it may be really helpful to just have them in
moments when you’re so overwhelmed.
Illustrate task/rationale
P:
(Nods.) Um hmm.
Minimal response.
T:
Or even just write on a piece of paper. You know the
format by now. (Pause). Do you feel like you’ve come
far?
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Yeah. (sounds a little unsure). I think I’ve made some
progress (smiles).
Content/affect split,
deferential, and complaint
progress
T:
Just some?
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Well (sighs). I feel a huge relief. I just don’t want to
get too, like—I feel a sense of accomplishment, I’m
very happy, but I don’t want to feel like, oh yeah,
everything’s great now, I don’t have to do all this
(gestures toward thought record), continue to be
doing this writing. It’s not always a pleasant thing, it’s
not always easy, but it gives me such relief that I hope
that I keep doing it.
Complaint activity
T:
It sounds like you’re really on guard. You’re still
vigilant. You think, yeah, I feel better, but I better
keep up my defenses because it’s still going to be hard
Invite thoughts/feelings
53
ahead. It’s still going to be really rough.
P:
Well, I know it will be an effort to do this, to maintain
this, but I’m saying that because things that I’m
constantly up against—it’s still somewhat of a
struggle. I’m just hoping to get to a place where it
comes easier, more naturally to me. But I am happy
with the result. It’s a lot of hard work that’s paid off.
Patient is now sharing her
true feelings with the
therapist in a straightforward,
collaborative wayno longer
a rupture.
1325, session 5, 15-20 minutes
T:
So it sounds like this article you read for homework
brought up again this schema of rebelling against the
good little boy mentality that you’ve struggled with,
and that’s really at the core of a lot of these thoughts
that are coming up.
P:
Also doing things the way people tell me to. This is
the right way, this is the way to do it. Something
about that makes me stop cold.
Complaint therapist, check
minusnot yet clear if patient
is obliquely referring to
therapist.
T:
And challenge, or…?
P:
Stop short.
T:
Stop short. OK.
P:
And that came up when I was in physical therapy.
T:
Is it coming up here with cognitive therapy?
Link other relationships
P:
It doesn’t come up. I think of it, but I hope I’m not
doing it.
T:
I’d like to talk about the thoughts you are having
about it, specifically, this isn’t going to work…?
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
I think I’m open to it, I’m open to it. I’ve had problems
in the past due to several reasons. One, that I was
married to somebody who saw herself as a saint…and
I had this therapist who was really bad for me and
used it, as, uh…
T:
Used whatcognitive therapy?
54
P:
Well he, uh…a lot of the stuff in here (points at article)
reminds me of what he said.
Complaint activity
T:
What about the thought distortions? Getting on to
the next topic, which was the four thoughts that you
had.
Possible change task/goal
unclear if therapist is moving
away from article in response
to rupture, or if therapist is
simply moving on to next item
on the agenda.
P:
The thought distortions, well (chuckle), this reminds
me of another old girlfriend…
Avoidant storytelling/shift
topic
1325, session 15, 25-30 minutes
Patient has been talking at length about going to clubs to hear music. Patient is not engaging
with the therapist at allavoidant storytelling.
P:
It’s really hard to find a club that has consistently good
music without having to pay through the nose.
Avoidant storytelling/shift
topic
T:
Yeah.
P:
And not having to buy a drink, which sometimes I do
and sometimes I don’t. It’s like, if I’m going to listen
to this music, I’m going to have to get a pint of beer
and I’m not in the mood for a pint of beer.
Avoidant storytelling/shift
topic
T:
Right.
P:
I’d rather leave my system alone.
T:
Yeah, OK, I hatenot to change pace too much, but I
know that the last time we met, you had a lot of
doctor’s appointments, a lot of health concerns. Now
that your hearing has improved, how are other health-
related things going? Is that contributing to your
anxiety right now?
Therapist redirects patient
P:
At least I have my hearing back but I have to get my
blood pressure checked every week…
55
1329, session 6, 0-5 minutes
In the prior session, there was a rupture related to thought records.
T:
Just to set an agenda, we’ll do a mood check, and then
talk about the homework. And I just wanted to talk
more about the thought record because I don’t think I
explained it very well
Acknowledge contribution
P:
I’m just not relating to it.
Complaint activity
T:
So let’s spend a little bit of time later going over that.
Is there anything else you want to talk about?
1329, session 6, 15-20 minutes
T:
So I’m wondering if when you were thinking you had
to go home and be with your husband, that’s true, but
could you think, I have to go home and be with my
husband, but I’m in the process of getting divorced,
this won’t last forever—do you sort of replace a
thought with those thoughts?
P:
No, because the immediate situation is often so toxic,
or so upsetting because of his behavior. I can’t
escape his behavior, and knowing that I can in the
future doesn’t help.
Reject intervention
T:
It doesn’t make you feel better to think about that?
P:
No. (a little teary)
Reject intervention and
minimal response
T:
So is it upsetting to even talk about it right now?
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Sort of.
Minimal response
T:
So are you feeling in general frustrated with this
whole thing, the thought record?
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Yeah. (slight smile)
Minimal response and check
minus content/affect split
T:
So, can you say more about that? What is frustrating
about it?
Invite thoughts/feelings
56
P:
I don’t relate to it. It just doesn’t seem the kind of
thing that’s useful to me, that even relates to me.
Complaint activity
T:
So what do you feel like doesn’t relate to you?
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
Well, (looks at thought record) distressing physical
sensations, I’ve never had that.
T:
OK, that doesn’t need to apply.
P:
Thoughts and images through my mind—I’m not the
kind of person who thinks in images–I don’t know.
T:
OK, that’s also something that can be sort of removed
from this. Maybe it’s easier to just cross those things
out.
Change task/goal
1329, Session 6, 45-50
T:
So do you have any feedback on how things are going
so far?
A standard check-innot a
resolution strategy.
P:
Well, I think it’s valuable. The true value will come
when I’ve left my husband and I’m in my own place.
T:
It’s good that you’re coming in now to build a
relationship, that’s good planning.
And so the thought record, we’re going to play around
with it more, but you’re not loving it.
Invite thoughts/feelings
P:
(Smiling) Right.
Complaint activity
T:
(Laughs). Which is fine. Um, so I guess for this week,
don’t worry about the whole thing, just the part
where it says situation and thought, that’s the only
thing to think about. You can cross off the last three
columns….
Change task/goal
[go over thought record]
And let me know if you have any other questions, too,
like if it doesn’t make sense. I’m glad that you came in
and—some people might come in and say, ‘oh yeah, I
Disclose internal experience
57
like the thought record’ even though they hate it.
P:
(smiling) Oh, OK, oh, that’s not my style.
T:
No, it’s great! I’m very happy that, you know, you’re
telling me exactly how it’s going and what you think
because there’s no point if you don’t like it.
Disclose internal experience,
Validate defensive posture
P:
Exactly.
T:
So that is very helpful for me. Um, so I think that’s it.
Is there any other homework that you think would be
helpful?
P:
No.
T:
OK, so I guess we’ll just stick with that. So I never
even did the mood check. How are you feeling?
P:
Right now, terrible (laughing).
Content/affect split,
Complaint activity
T:
(Laughing) This made you feel great!
P:
But when I came in, I felt good.
58
Citation:
Eubanks, C.F., Muran, J.C., & Safran, J.D. (2015).
Rupture Resolution Rating System (3RS): Manual.
Unpublished manuscript, Mount Sinai-Beth Israel
Medical Center, New York.
For more information, please contact Catherine F. Eubanks at
catherine.eubanks@einstein.yu.edu.
Ja nuary 2015
... In an attempt to specify these elements, Safran and Muran (2000) envision the therapeutic relationship as a process that implicates a continuous -conscious and unconscious-, negotiation between patient and therapist subjectivities which involves tensions that are relevant for the therapy process. These tensions are manifested in relationship ruptures (Safran, 2003), understood as interpersonal stressful events that challenge the stability of the relationship (Eubanks, Muran, & Safran, 2015), as they imply a temporary deterioration of the communicative process and a breakdown of the collaboration between patient and therapist (Safran, & Muran, 2006). ...
... The Rupture and Resolution Rating System (3RS) (Eubanks, Muran, & Safran, 2015), is a system that allows the observational coding of rupture and resolution strategy markers by judges. While observing the session, judges record events in which a lack of collaboration and/or tension between patient and therapist is observed, as well as events in which the therapist attempts a resolution strategy. ...
... The examination of the different process variables indicated that rupture events almost doubled resolution strategy events within the therapeutic process. This result is not surprising, considering what Eubanks et al (2015) point out as a common feature of ruptures: they may remain outside the patient and therapist's conscious awareness, and on occasions may not significantly obstruct therapeutic progress. ...
Article
Research on the therapeutic relationship has underscored its central role for the therapeutic change process, indicating the relevance of determining the specific elements and mechanisms involved in its configuration (Knobloch-Fedders, Elkin, & Kiesler, 2014). Research on ruptures of the therapeutic relationship has yielded particular contributions to better understanding the interpersonal negotiation process involved in the patient-therapist interaction. Although previous studies have contributed to the objective characterization and the exhaustive description of ruptures, more research is needed to further specify markers that allow a better understanding about how patterns of affective regulation between patient and therapist are involved and contribute to the emergence of these events and the attempts at reparation. The aim of this study is to characterize patient’s and therapist’s facial-affective behavior associated to verbal relational offers (RO) during rupture (R) and resolution strategy (RS) events in a brief psychodynamic therapy. Facial-affective behavior was determined using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), ROs were derived from the content analysis of session transcripts, and R and RS were determined using the 3RS. Nested analyses were carried to establish associations between variables. Results indicate characteristic patient-therapist facial-verbal regulatory patterns for both rupture and resolution strategy events. These findings underscore the value of combining multiple approaches to allow an access to observable indicators of dyadic affect regulatory processes that can contribute to better understand and be attentive to the oscillations of the therapeutic relationship.
... Die Kritik ist aber keine absolute, weil mehrere Autoren einräumen, dass es Situationen geben kann, in denen es erstrebenswert ist, eine Bedeutung zu fixieren und so klar und unmissverständlich wie möglich zu deuten. Temporäre Brüche in der therapeutischen Beziehung können gleichfalls nicht nur als negativ bewertet werden, da die Erfahrung mit der "Rupture-repair"-Methode (3RS, Eubanks et al. 2015) gezeigt hat, dass Prozesse vollkommen ohne Brüche nicht produktiv sind, und dass es auf längere Sicht beziehungsförderlich sein kann, Brüche in der Beziehung mit klärender Absicht anzusprechen. Sogenannte Rupture-repair-Episoden können demnach innerhalb einer therapeutischen Beziehung bedeutsame Veränderungsprozesse K in Gang setzen. ...
... Die sieben Kategorien, die wir aus der Theorie abgeleitet haben, führt Tab. 2 auf. Die Kategorien "Konfrontation" (1) und "Rückzug" (2) übernehmen die beiden von Eubanks et al. (2015Eubanks et al. ( , 2019 in der Rupture-repair-Methode herausgearbeiteten Arten von Brüchen. Neue Assoziationen, fließendes Material (3) als Kategorie einzuführen, beruht auf dem in einem Artikel von Thomä und Houben (1967) diskutierten Patientenreaktionskatalog von Isaacs (1939) und auf der Subskala der Transference Work Scale (Ulberg et al. 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Zusammenfassung Klassische psychoanalytische Deutungen stießen in den letzten Jahren vermehrt auf Kritik: Demnach würden diese Deutungen der therapeutischen Beziehung schaden, Blockaden auslösen und mit einer problematischen therapeutischen Haltung einhergehen. Anhand der Tonbandaufnahmen von 35 psychoanalytischen Sitzungen im mittleren Behandlungsverlauf, die im Rahmen der Münchner Psychotherapiestudie aufgezeichnet wurden, wurden 23 klassische Deutungen in 16 Sitzungen identifiziert und die Reaktionen der Patientinnen und Patienten darauf mittels der Grounded-Theory-Methode analysiert. Die Reaktionen wurden in sieben Kategorien zusammengefasst, von denen zwei als unerwünscht gelten können (z. B. „Rückzug“ oder „Konfrontation“). Die Mehrzahl der Reaktionen der Patientinnen und Patienten auf klassische Deutungen fiel allerdings in Kategorien, die als fruchtbar angesehen werden, z. B. „kognitive Erkenntnis“ oder „emotionale Resonanz“. Demnach kann die teils heftige Kritik an klassischen Deutungen in unserer Studie nicht bestätigt werden.
... Approaches to rupture identification can be categorized into two methods: within-session methods and between-session methods, which derive from postsession measures of alliance (Eubanks-Carter et al., 2010). Within-session methods refer to those that assess moment-to-moment process to assess for the occurrence of rupture, such as the Rupture Resolution Rating Scale (3RS; Eubanks et al., 2015) and the Collaborative Interactions Scale (CIS; Colli & Lingiardi, 2009). Between-session methods, or indirect self-report methods, glean the occurrence of rupture from postsession alliance data. ...
... First, it would be helpful, and perhaps necessary, for studies to assess the psychotherapy process in rupture sessions identified by control charts to further validate their utility. One such study, a single case study that applied the 3RS (Eubanks et al., 2015) compared coded rupture process in a control chart-identified rupture session with an "average alliance" session (Lipner et al., 2019). Results indicated that the control chart-identified rupture session had significantly higher rupture marker frequency and an overall more negative impact on the alliance, according to 3RS ratings. ...
Article
This study aimed to determine how control charts ‐ a form of time‐series line graphs ‐ can be implemented in psychotherapy research to indirectly identify probable rupture‐repair episodes that are associated with psychotherapy outcome. There is no current standard in psychotherapy research with regard to how to use control charts to identify rupture‐repair events. Control charts were generated for each patient (N = 73) using patient‐rated Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) scores obtained at the end of every session in a 30‐session therapy protocol of either brief relational therapy (BRT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Empirically‐derived cutoff points were used to identify rupture and repair based on each dyad’s control chart. Coded rupture‐repair episodes were correlated with outcome measures to assess for their relationships. The results of these analyses provide preliminary support for the utility of control charts in psychotherapy research for the indirect identification of probable rupture repair events that are associated with psychotherapy outcome.
... Alliance rupture and resolutions. Ruptures in the alliance were identified using the observerbased Rupture-Resolution Rating System (3RS) (Eubanks et al., 2015(Eubanks et al., , 2019. While listening to a therapy session recording, raters watch for a lack of collaboration or presence of tension between patient and therapist. ...
Article
Most research on alliance rupture-repair processes in psychotherapy has been carried out with adults and little is known about the alliance dynamics with adolescents, especially in psychodynamic treatments.Objective: This study aimed to better understand the process of alliance rupture-resolution and its role in a good-outcome case of a depressed adolescent treated with short-term psychoanalytic-psychotherapy (STPP).Method: A longitudinal, mixed-methods empirical single-case approach was employed. Multiple sources of information (questionnaires, interviews, sessions recordings) from various perspectives (adolescent, therapist, observer) were assembled and analysed.Results: The different sources of evidence converged and showed that, despite the presence of frequent alliance ruptures, patient and therapist managed to resolve these and develop a good and collaborative relationship. Both patient and therapist regarded the evolution in their relationship as the treatment factor mainly responsible for the positive changes experienced by the adolescent. Based on both theoretical and empirical data, a preliminary model of how to explore and repair alliance ruptures in STPP is presented.Conclusion: This study illustrates one way of applying an empirical, mixed-method approach to a single case. Its finding supports the idea that the process of repairing ruptures is an important mechanism of change. Strengths, limitations, and possible implications are discussed.
... Therapists' and patients' abilities to recognize ruptures and their willingness to report them may be impacted not only by theoretical perspectives but also by social desirability, recall, or other factors. Hence, it is important to also employ observer-based measures like the Rupture Resolution Rating System (3RS: Eubanks et al., 2015). An advantage of the 3RS is that it distinguishes between withdrawal and confrontation ruptures and allows for the identification of not only obvious conflicts but also subtle rupture processes. ...
Article
A strong therapeutic relationship provides the optimal context for CBT, and an important component of this relationship is the alliance. An alliance rupture is a difficulty or deterioration in the alliance manifested by a lack of collaboration on therapy tasks or goals or a strain in the bond. The process of rupture repair can facilitate the work of therapy by renewing collaboration and strengthening the bond. Rupture repair can also provide the opportunity for a corrective experience of successfully navigating interpersonal conflict. A review of research on rupture repair in CBT treatments highlights that ruptures are common, and that failure to repair ruptures is associated with poor outcome and premature dropout. Therapists can reduce the likelihood of contributing to ruptures by adhering to the principle of collaborative empiricism. Therapists can facilitate rupture repair by recognizing ruptures when they occur and employing repair strategies: immediate repair strategies such as modifying the treatment task, or expressive repair strategies such as metacommunicating about the rupture and exploring the interpersonal schemas that underlie it. Training in rupture repair has demonstrated benefits for CBT therapists, particularly trainees.
... The analysis of the research material consisted of an iterative, multi-layered process, combining observations from verbal and nonverbal modalities of interaction. More specifically, the analysis included qualitative analysis of therapeutic dialogue in terms of content and discourse use, coding of alliance ruptures and resolutions using the Rupture Resolution Coding System (3RS; Eubanks, Muran, & Safran, 2015), and quantitative descriptive analysis of physiological data. The analyses were first applied separately, and then their findings were synthesized to form a multi-layered depiction of the clinical process, which was used to identify significant moments of the session process for further detailed analysis. ...
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Full-text available
This exploratory single session-study presents a multimodal, mixed-method description of a session of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and illustrates an in-session “failure”, defined in terms of rupture in the therapeutic alliance and the process of its repair. It aims to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms implicated in therapeutic change. The research materialcomprises session’s video-recording, transcript, and measurements of participants’physiological arousal, as reflected in their heart rate in the session. The analysis consisted of an iterative, multi-layered process that combines observations from verbal and nonverbal modalities of interaction for the identification of significant in-session moments. We applied quantitative descriptive analysis on participants’ physiological arousal and synchronization, qualitative analysis of the clinical dialogue, and coded the in-session fluctuations in the therapeutic alliance,using the Rupture Resolution Rating System. The detailed analysis of specific interactive events in the session illustrates the shift from a “failure” in therapeutic collaboration to gradual repair; this shift entailed increased relatedness and physiological synchronization, and on a semantic level, co-created, reflective meanings in the here-and-now of the therapeutic interaction. The findings highlight ruptures as important in-session events and suggest that the therapist’s empathic oscillation between interpretative and metacommunication strategies can be mutative during moments of relational rupture. Practical Implications • Negotiation and resolution of in-session therapeutic ruptures may provide opportunities for therapeutic growth in terms of increased relatedness and reflectiveness. • The therapist’s flexible shifts between using interpretative interventions and immediate collaborative explorations in the here-and-now, in the form of metacommunication, seem to facilitate the repair of alliance rupture. • Multimodal methodologies and multi-layered analyses, integrating verbal and nonverbal, physiological data in the study of therapeutic interaction can shed light on significant in-session events and mechanisms of the change process.
... All participants have been informed of the aims of the studies and have signed informed consents allowing the entire therapy to be videotaped, involving the installation of cameras in the room directed simultaneously toward therapist and patient. All videotaped therapy sessions have been observed by trained raters who code the presence of rupture and resolution strategy markers based on the Rupture Resolution Rating System (3RS) (Eubanks et al., 2015). Trained coders observed each therapy session and identified markers of both ruptures and resolution strategies according to the definition of the manual. ...
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After more than a century of existence, theoretical development, research, and clinical practice within the psychoanalytic movement have consistently demonstrated that psychoanalysis is not a unitary and autonomous discipline. This has been evidenced by the various ways in which psychoanalytic thought and practice have been informed by and have established a dialogue—more or less fruitful—with related disciplines (neurosciences, developmental psychology, psychotherapy research, attachment theory and research, feminism, philosophy). This dialogue has contributed to a better understanding of the functioning of the human psyche, and therefore of the analytic process, informing clinical interventions. In turn, it has enriched research on psychoanalytic practice and process, underlining the fact that research in psychoanalysis is fundamentally about clinical practice. Since its origins, psychoanalysis has made explicit the work on the patient-analyst relationship as the terrain in which the analytic process unfolds. For its part, research in psychotherapy has demonstrated the relevance of the therapeutic relationship for the good development and outcome of any psychotherapeutic process. This supports the argument that research in clinical psychoanalysis should be research on the impact of the analyst interventions on the analyst-patient relationship. In this context, a central element of what happens in the analytic relationship refers to affect communication and therefore, affect regulation, which is manifested in the transferential and counter-transferential processes, as well as in the therapeutic bond. On the other hand, affective regulation is found at the crossroads of etiopathogenesis, complex personality models and psychopathology, allowing the understanding of human functioning and the staging of these configurations in the patient-analyst relationship. In this way, research on affective regulation in the analytic process is proposed as a path that exemplifies interdisciplinary research and scientific pluralism from which psychoanalysis enriches and progresses as a discipline. The case of a line of research on affective regulation in psychoanalytic psychotherapy is illustrated. The need to resort to other disciplines, as well as the translational value of our research and its clinical usefulness, is discussed.
... Many researchers agree that the successful handling of a rupture can in fact lead to a deepening of a treatment. Identifying and classifying ruptures in the alliance, thus, is critical for developing treatment approaches that improve the alliance and in turn ultimately impact psychotherapy outcome (Safran and Muran 2000;Eubanks-Carter et al. 2009. ...
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