Relational dialogue in emotion‐focused therapy

Robert Elliott, James Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: In emotion‐focused therapy (EFT) relational processes between the therapist and client are not normally an explicit focus unless the therapist and client encounter difficulties that interfere with therapeutic work. When this does happen, however, relational dialogue (including meta‐communication) becomes necessary. We present the principles and stages of the EFT task Relational Dialogue for Alliance Difficulties.
Methods and Results: After describing this little‐known task, we illustrate its application in the successful treatment of a severely socially anxious female client with complex trauma and emotional fragility. Using transcripts and detailed descriptions we highlight the alliance difficulty marker subtype, relational dialogue principles and the stages of EFT alliance difficulty work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-428
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date15 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • therapeutic relationship
  • emotion-focused therapy
  • alliance difficulties
  • social anxiety

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