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The possibilities of a good therapeutic relationship

15.08.2017 - Addiction, Eating disorders, Mental health, Therapies

We all know from our own personal experiences how important relationships are. It is a core human need to feel heard, seen, valued, understood and responded to. It is essential to be able to build up trust, to open up and feel free to explore our inner precious thoughts and emotions, and to communicate these to the outside world.

From our first day, us humans need the social interaction to learn and grow. This start with the primary care giver who intuitively detects the child’s signals and responds appropriately, in synchrony, to meet the child’s needs, so that it can gradually develop a sense of self. We then continue to personally grow through contact with friends, peers, romantic relationships and, if needed, as an essential part of a recovery process, also through a therapeutic one.

Besides the modern treatment possibilities in the pharmacological and technical field, the most important and valuable factor for a change for the better still is and will always be the relationship or alliance between the client and the therapist. Establishing a therapeutic relationship is a vital step in the recovery process and for the relationship to be productive, trust is key. In this safe, open, and non-judgmental environment it is possible to feel at ease, understood, held and accompanied by the therapist on the journey of inner exploration, no matter where it will take them and how overwhelming it might become.

Perhaps most central to the development and maintenance of the therapeutic relationship is the concept of empathy. An empathic therapist, who has worked hard to fully understand her client, can offer something much deeper than sympathy – something that makes the client feel understood and solidly connected to their therapist. In addition to a therapist’s empathy, authenticity, trust, respect, and congruence are also major components of a good therapeutic relationship. Lastly, there needs to be enough space for the client and the creation of possibilities.

Combining all these elements provides for a precious and powerful alliance between two individuals that can then face any oncoming challenges, explore them, understand them and change their impact. In addition, we can benefit from this safe and caring relationship and feel liberated to try out new behaviour and practice it, without the fear of being misunderstood or rejected

Once this kind of bond is founded, a so called reparenting process can take place to a certain extent, meaning that any possible unmet childhood needs can be nurtured and psychological problems due to defective parenting can be overcome.

This is a creative, individual and authentic process that we have the most valuable possibility to benefit from in order to grow and discover throughout our whole lives.

Beginning therapy can be a very difficult step to take. You may be concerned that your interaction with the therapist will be cold and clinical, or that the therapist will judge you harshly. These concerns are quite common, but also quite contrary to how The Kusnacht Practice works. If you are considering therapy and believe you would thrive in the kind of relationship described in this article, consider contacting us today.

Author: Dr. med. univ. Sarah Boss - Deputy Medical Director, The Kusnacht Practice