The Therapy Relationship – Key Ideas in Therapy (1/3)


Existential. Psychodynamic. Behavioral.
There’s certainly no shortage of therapies out there, so which one’s the
best? Well, the results are in and we have a winner. The most effective type of
therapy is all of them. Yes. If you look across all therapies and all clients
they are in fact equally effective. Bit of a shock, but to see what’s going
on let’s look at what all therapies have in common.
From psychoanalysis to CBT, whatever the flavour, what we have are two people in a room:
a therapist and a client working something through. They call it the
therapy relationship and it may just be one of the most important parts of
getting better. So what is it? Well, it’s made up of a number of things, such as
the feelings the client and the therapist have for each other and how
they behave together. For Carl Rogers, the father of person-centered therapy, a good
therapy relationship has three key ingredients. Number one, unconditional
positive regard. The therapist has to truly think the very best of the client.
Number two, empathy. The therapist needs to really get the client. And number
three, congruence. The therapist should be genuine, so off with that mask of
professionalism. Rogers really believed in his three ingredients. He said they
were all a client needed from their therapist in order to get better. Experts
say it’s so effective because we carry our old relationships around with us.
So, say you grew up with a very critical parent. You might now expect criticism
from those in charge. In counseling you can try a different kind of relationship, one defined by positive regard instead of criticism. It takes some skill to build a
good relationship. It’s easy to make mistakes, to misunderstand or say something
hurtful. Therapists have to know when to speak and when not to, when to show
empathy, and when to push. They have to be careful not to bring their own bad
relationships into the room. Clients should consider their therapy
relationship too. If your therapy isn’t working, don’t just give up altogether. You wouldn’t stop getting your hair cut after just one bad hairdresser. Shop
around until you find the right therapist and the right relationship for
you.