“The relationship you build with a client surpasses any therapeutic intervention.”
A close friend and colleague told me that once in a time of self-doubt. I think as therapists, at times we question our ability and our techniques. We are working with humans and sometimes the faith we might put into the work doesn’t seem to have the results that we want. This leads to questions of ” Am I doing this right? , Why am I doing this? School didn’t teach me this. What am I supposed to do with this human?”
We have, as clinicians, a lot of access to books, blogs like this, other therapists and YouTube videos. But ultimately what matters is the relationship and rapport you have with a client.
Therapy, the work we do, happens mostly outside the doors of the office with a couch. During the sessions however, alot of processing and opening up occurs. If the environment is judgmental, cold, authoritative, and sterile, it’ll be difficult to allow the space for trust and safety. Now, I’m not saying don’t use your worksheets, books, or research articles but if you take the time to focus on the relationship, then and only then, can the process of therapy or healing can begin.
Again, this is an opinion but in times of doubt focus on your ability to communicate, to reciprocate the client’s feelings. Empathy goes a longer way than sympathy and even if you can’t relate to a client’s cultural or ethinic background, find a common ground. Therapy , shouldn’t always be about the “bad stuff.” Spend a session talking about the client’s passions or lack of passion. You may find yourself more engaged.
Lastly, imagine you go somewhere to talk to someone about your own skeletons. You walk into an office terrified that you will be judged on your morals. The therapist has a suit and tie, is pompous, tells you that you are wrong and in order to begin talking about the passing of your loved one you HAVE to fill out 5 worksheets with numbers, sad faces, and intrusive questions.
This might work. But, now imagine your first session as welcoming, embracing, without arrogance. The therapist’s chair is low to the ground, you’re told you are free to talk about whatever you want and start wherever you want. There is no judgment.
No matter the techniques, the relationship between a therapist and their client, as I have learned, is more important to begin the process of healing.