About the Therapeutic Relationship
We develop in the context of relationship, in a matrix of the family. Our basic sense of self, our self-esteem, our self-concept, our relationship to ourselves and even our understanding of the world comes from our relationships with others. This is true across the lifespan. While we all face different tasks and choices at different points, all of these occur within the context of relationship(s).
In psychotherapy, we form a relationship with our therapist, with specific intentions – to get to know ourselves more and perhaps to grow as a person or to be freed from relational patterns that hold us back. Relationships affect every area of our lives: work, play, romance, friendships, family and even sense of self. It is through relationships, then, that we can work to improve these areas of our lives.
The relationship with a therapist is unique. It is like having a partner/guide who is there helping to make sense of things. It is different from a friend relationship since it is all about helping, and is focused in one direction. Moreover, friends often feel the need to agree or ‘side’ with you where a therapist will help you to explore situations from different angles, to gain a fuller understanding and a deeper grasp of the events and relationships in your life. The growth in the ‘controlled setting’ of a therapeutic relationship is what allows one to go out into the world of relationships with new tools, a shifted sense of self, greater self-esteem and to have a wider range of possibilities.