Exploring relational episodes with the core conflictual relationship theme method to develop treatment goals, build alliance, and set client expectations in brief psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy (BPP) begins with an assessment to gauge client appropriateness for treatment, generate treatment goals, and build a dynamic focus. During this assessment, other goals must also be achieved for treatment to have a successful start. Building a strong alliance, empathizing and bonding with the client, and clarifying the client’s understanding of key therapeutic activities are all common factors known to improve treatment course and outcome. Although these goals are desirable across treatment approaches, clinicians typically pursue them in a manner aligned with their treatment orientation. Ideally, common factor goals are achieved alongside treatment-specific aims. In BPP, therapists strive to help clients develop insight, improve self-understanding, and enhance relational functioning. This article argues that exploration of relationship episodes, using techniques from the core conflictual relationship theme method during the assessment phase of BPP is an efficient way to simultaneously pursue common factor goals and BPP-specific aims. Specifically, exploring relationship episodes aids in the selection of treatment goals, bolsters the therapeutic alliance, and helps clarify the value of therapeutic endeavors, while also promoting greater insight and self-understanding. Exchanges from clinical cases are provided to demonstrate each of these points. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)