The Therapeutic Alliance

July 19, 2017

Article Written by Peter J. Rundquist, PT, PhD

My primary professional role is being the Director of the DPT Program at Concordia University St. Paul. One aspect of the physical therapy profession that we impress upon our students resonates in my practice at PTOSI as well. That aspect is the Therapeutic Alliance.

In its simplest form, the therapeutic alliance is a trusted connection between the patient and the therapy team (Cole, 2003). This connection begins as the therapist listens to the patient’s story and determines what he/she hopes to accomplish while in physical therapy. The patient and physical therapy team then work together to address functional deficits while progressing toward the patient’s goals.

The therapeutic alliance is built on mutual trust between the patient, physical therapist (PT) and physical therapy assistant (PTA) in three areas:
1. The patient trusts the advice they receive from the PT.
2. The PTA collaborates with the PT to provide quality patient service.
3. The PT and PTA trust that the patient follows through on their exercise program.

This system of mutual trust and collaboration has worked well for us at PTOSI. If working with a strong team on accomplishing your functional goals appeals to you, please reach out to PTOSI at 612-872-2700 to schedule an evaluation. We look forward to hearing from and working with you.

Cole MB, McLean V. Therapeutic relationships re-defined. Occup Ther Ment Health. 2003;19: p. 33–56.