Workshop Review: Therapeutic Posture: Maximizing Treatment Success within the Attachment Based Alliance

April 3, 2019

Last month, Council for Relationships’ Professional Development Program offered a workshop to help behavioral health professionals enhance the therapeutic alliance, specifically the therapeutic bond. Attachment theory provides one of the most potent theoretical frameworks for the formation of an effective, real, attuned working alliance. Over several decades, the presenter and Council for Relationships staff therapist, Dr. Rita DeMaria has been cultivating and defining a unique approach for establishing an attachment-based therapeutic bond termed Therapeutic Posture.

Workshop attendee Dr. April Westfall commented: “Therapists have long recognized the critical impact that early childhood attachment patterns have on our adult intimate relationships – limiting or facilitating our ability to form trusting and life-affirming bonds with those we hold most dear. In this important workshop, Rita DeMaria and Brianna Bogue bring to life the extensive professional literature on the subject and demonstrate through role-play and clinical example how it actually works. Furthermore, they make an important contribution to the attachment literature by showing its relevance to the way we form effective alliances with our clients in the form of therapeutic postures that resonate with their own attachment styles.”

At the heart of therapeutic posture are four specific therapeutic styles that can be flexibly applied as the clinician identifies internal working models of attachment with primary caregivers as well as couple and family interaction patterns that can be identified using adult attachment styles. A comprehensive and systemic lens provides the therapist an opportunity to attune to both the internalized childhood attachment patterns and the external adult attachment styles, which are referred to as the inner and outer domains of the Intersystem Approach.

Through clinical vignettes and roleplays, participants learned that the benefits of applying therapeutic posture with clients is twofold; on the one hand it positively impacts the attachment bond for the client with their therapist, and on the other it can support the development of a more secure and balanced internal working model for the ‘self of the therapist’. The unique therapeutic bond that the client develops with therapist can impact the overall quality of the therapy and also the client’s relationships with others outside of the therapy room.


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