When I began my counselling career, I had limited skills and techniques in my arsenal. Talk therapy was helpful at times (at least it seemed to be) and other times I felt talk therapy did not have much effect. I was only using a screwdriver when I needed to find more tools. I believe one way I pulled through being ‘generic’ as a therapist was understanding the importance of the therapeutic relationship. Wow, is this important! The therapeutic relationship is the bond or rapport that is carefully constructed between client and therapist over time.
Without being compassionate, inviting, accepting, and non-judgemental in my approach as a therapist, all those other fancy therapeutic tools are of no use. I came to understand the therapeutic relationship is primary and tools are secondary. While I was taught about the value of the therapeutic relationship during my university studies, and while I understood it logically, I needed to learn this emotionally through experience.
A wise man once said, an advanced therapist will use the simple tools very effectively and deliberatly . One tool we often take for granted is the ability to connect with people. We can't afford to minimise or underestimate how we approach interacting and learning to 'vibe' with others.
Constant assumptions about the other person and who they are or what they might be thinking are slow deaths for connections and relationships. Rigid expectations for others, even if the expectations sound logical, can be futile.
Being able to approach someone with a blank slate full of genuine curiosity shows you care enough to give them the space they need to connect with you. I learned this, as most do, by experience and welcome you to try this out with me by working together in the therapeutic realm.
Written by: Eric Fisher