Skip to main content

Constructing the working alliance

This section focuses on constructing the working alliance. In this context, 'constructing' simply means agreeing the process with the client. 'Working alliance' refers to the helping and learning relationship. The process starts outside the interview room within the marketing and management of the service and includes the booking process. It continues into the interview itself and beyond into follow-up and further use. The focus of this section is on the interview itself. Building the working alliance at the start of the interview has particular value in short and/or one-off interactions where effective use of time is at a premium. The following tasks can assist the process:

  • Clarifying and agreeing mutual roles and expectations
  • Identifying and agreeing goals for the interaction
  • Considering the role of learning
  • Creating a bond between client and counsellor
  • Pursuing and/or modifying mutual goals
  • Enhancing the bond
  • Achieving goals
  • Completing the bond
  • Closing the working alliance


Please now read the Gysbers, Heppner & Johnston (2014) extract in your reading pack.


Follow up

Some key questions to consider in relation to your own practice:

  • How should I discuss time, confidentiality/privacy and follow-up?
  • What is my agenda for the interview e.g. learning about the client? Has this been agreed?
  • What is my role in relation to information-giving? How can I help the client learn about this?
  • Do I see myself as impartial/independent? Any constraints? How does the client know about this?
  • How do I see myself e.g. as facilitator of learning or expert? How does the client see me?
  • Do I have an interview structure in mind (e.g. action planning towars the end)? Have I agreed this?

You will get a feel for my own responses to these questions in the next video entitled Video A: Phil & Melissa......