Researchers studying different clinical approaches to counselling and psychotherapy found that no matter what approach the practitioner used there was one factor that determined success or failure: the therapeutic relationship. A good connection between counsellor and client was found to be the most consistent and powerful determinant of a positive outcome.
Given this, it seems important that you, as a client, trust your gut-feeling when you meet a prospective therapist. Is this a person you could imagine trusting? Is this someone you respect and feel like you could be comfortable with? Do you like him/her? Is this someone whom you feel will benefit you?
Here is a simple version of the way I understand why the relationship between counsellor and client is so important: given the reality that no parent or environment is perfect, we all suffer some wounding in our early relationships. After all, it is with our parents that we have our first real relationship–the quality of our connection with them, good and bad, influences the way we see ourselves and others in powerful ways. It can heavily contribute to the difficulties we experience later in life, especially the places where we feel most stuck. Psychotherapy/counselling can help by providing a new experience of relationship that can help heal some of those old wounds.
Said another way: It is sort of like if you had a plant that lived in the shade its whole life when what it really needed was full sun. Because of this, it was kind of stunted–not quite growing as happily and fully as it otherwise would have. So when that plant is finally moved to a sunny windowsill, it slowly starts to grow and eventually, with proper water and food–thrives in its very individual way.
Psychotherapy is like the sunny windowsill (or the shady corner, depending on what the specific “plant” needs!): at its best it provides the kind of environment a person needs to grow. The client provides the inherent potential for growth; a good psychotherapeutic relationship provides the proper environment and nutrients.
Read more about how I work: Symptoms Have Meaning
Derek Martin, PhD
Canadian Certified Counsellor
Suite 301, 284 Helmcken Rd, Victoria, BC V9B 1T2
Phone: (250) 882-0322