A critical-cultural-relational approach to rupture resolution: A case illustration with a cross-racial dyad

J Clin Psychol. 2021 Feb;77(2):369-383. doi: 10.1002/jclp.23080. Epub 2020 Oct 23.


Ruptures are common in any therapeutic relationship and their successful resolution is associated with positive outcomes. However, therapist and client differences with regard to power, privilege, identity, and culture increase social and cultural distance, contributing to alliance ruptures and complicating the repair process. Informed by critical race theories, cultural psychological perspectives, and relational principles, we highlight how power, privilege, identity, and culture shape the development of ruptures and thus, how analyses of these dynamics should inform the process of repair. We present an expanded critical-cultural-relational approach to rupture resolution that emphasizes essential skills of critical self-awareness, wise affect, and anti-oppressive interpersonal engagement, and extends Safran and Muran's (2000) general rupture resolution model to emphasize a critical analysis of the rupture and repair processes. We illustrate our approach through a case presentation involving a rupture in a cross-racial dyad with themes of racism and classism.

Keywords: alliance; anti-oppressive practice; critical race theory; multicultural psychology; ruptures.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Therapeutic Alliance*