Role of Therapeutic Relationship in Counselling & Psychotherapy One of the most important aspects of training to be a counsellor or psychotherapist is the establishment of sound therapeutic relationship, without this no therapy can take place. Recent researches and the experience of psychotherapy practitioners suggest that no single psychotherapy or counselling approach is more effective than any other approach, every process has something to contribute. It is the nature of the issues that the client is experiencing and the personality of the client that require a particular approach. Increasingly Therapists are required to be flexible and responsive to deliver psychotherapy to the client within the particular circumstances. According to the research, the therapeutic relationship is the key for the success of the therapy. Training for counsellor must encompass combined focus on the therapeutic relationship with a sound and coherent theoretical basis that can be flexible and responsive to client needs. Dangers of diagnosis There can be huge pressure on the counsellor to diagnose the issues that the client brings. The client and possibly the referrer or the concerned person will want to get to the bottom of the problem quickly and the temptation arises to proceed along a path of brief, solution focused therapy for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. This intervention might sound very logical and scientific but it has no bearing on the reality of the work involved in psychotherapy. There is no doubt that it is vital to have a range of hypotheses regarding the treatment options and many conditions such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar and major affective disorders or degenerative diseases diagnosis will need a full psychiatric evaluation but in the everyday counselling of less severely impaired individuals diagnosis can be counterproductive. Counselling is fundamentally a process whereby the therapist attempts to know the client as fully as possible. A diagnosis can be extremely limiting and hamper the development of the relationship, the temptation can be to focus on the condition and resist or avoid the intensity of relating to the other person in a very human congruent manner. If we follow a diagnosis we can also begin to relate to the person as the “condition” i.e. if they are an “addict” or a borderline this might serve to perpetuate these very conditions. It is not uncommon for iatrogenic influence to shape clinical outcomes in the medical field. Therapy by its nature is a very subjective experience which highlights the need for ongoing clinical supervision. There are a variety of models and schools of thought regarding the best form of supervision. These models and schools of thought are frequently related to the theoretical orientation of the supervisor. These different philosophies can create a dynamic tension within supervision. This dynamic needs to be both supportive and challenging. The style of the supervisor can occur within a spectrum ranging from highly didactic and directional to highly exploratory and relational. The supervisor engages the trainee Therapist in an examination of the process of psychotherapy and also an examination of themselves. Good Supervision needs to be non-directive with some form of didactic teaching taking place also. The student is encouraged to express feelings about, and associations to what the client is presenting. The parallel process that occurs in the client relationship and the supervisory relationship will also be addressed for deeper insight. The main aim should be for the therapist to explore transferences and counter transferences so as to gain insight into any unconscious conflicts that might be impeding their work or development.
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