First, Therapeutic Relationship

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The bond established between the therapist and the client is different from all other connections we form. This is because therapy is the place where the client is most transparent and open. It is the space where we confront aspects of ourselves and our relationships with others that we may not have been able to solve or even notice. Essential rules are required for this space to be formed, and providing suitable conditions for the person comes first, through establishing the right relationship with them.

In the therapeutic relationship with the therapist, the client’s ability to open up, trust, and express themselves is equivalent to the power of the therapeutic relationship. However, the therapeutic process can only begin after this professional relationship has been established. In a relationship system where one feels misunderstood, lacks a sense of trust, and cannot define their boundaries, it is impossible to take steps towards healing. Without being able to position their therapist within a system that they cannot separate from their friends, spouse, family, or loved ones, one cannot seek solutions or gain awareness. It is crucial for the therapist to maintain an open, compassionate, and accepting attitude while working with intense emotions such as shame, anger, fear, or sorrow/grief. Elements like empathy, respect/care, and acceptance, when combined, carry important relational features of successful therapy. This is because clients bring their emotional wounds to therapy. People knock on the door of therapy not when they are happy and feeling good, but when they have not been able to overcome their problems, when they have no other option. For a person to start the therapy process and benefit from it in this challenging moment, therapy and the therapist must possess different qualities from other people. Therefore, the therapeutic relationship is where the person forms a connection different from their other interpersonal relationships. The bond between the client and the therapist becomes the most crucial element for both the success and benefits of therapy.

The concept of the therapeutic relationship refers, in its simplest form, to the professional relationship established between the client and the therapist. This relationship has specific characteristics and boundaries. The client and therapist relationship is shaped by confidentiality and professional ethical boundaries. There are important elements to consider within this relationship. A trustworthy psychologist-client relationship is influenced by various factors such as creating an accepting atmosphere, being open to sharing information, empathetic listening, and adhering to the principle of confidentiality, as well as knowledge of psychopathology. The content of the therapeutic relationship framework also includes rules related to therapy. The start and end time of therapy must be determined. The client should be informed about when to come and leave, as well as the duration of the therapy. The arrangement of the environment where therapy will take place and establishing eye contact with the client are also important. In the therapy setting, careful organization is necessary, from avoiding elements that may disturb the client to the sensitivity of the placement of items.

The client should feel assured that they are listened to and understood throughout the entire session. For this, the therapist must be able to use various concepts such as active listening, empathy, reflection, summarization, etc. Adhering to the principle of confidentiality with the client is also influential in establishing the therapeutic relationship. The most important factor in the client trusting the therapist is the therapist’s commitment to confidentiality. The client should be informed about situations where the principle of confidentiality may be violated, and unless these exceptional circumstances arise, they should not be deprived of the right to confidentiality. In a strong relationship, the sense of trust prevails. When the therapeutic relationship cannot be established or is disrupted, the therapist should guide the client.

Written by:

Psychologist Merve SAVAŞKAN


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