From time-to-time, someone will ask me, “what is the most important factor in achieving a successful therapeutic outcome?” and I will always reply, “the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client.”
There are many different therapeutic methods, many of which achieve good results. But regardless of the type of therapy you choose, it is the relationship – the feeling of connection between therapist and client – that will make the greatest difference.
Therapy takes you through many different stages as you work through your issues. Vulnerability, anxiety, fear, shame, embarrassment: these are all emotions we might feel when baring our soul to a stranger. Will this person judge me? Will she think less of me if I tell her my deepest secrets? Will she provide a safe container for my story so that I can gain a greater understanding of myself and change the things I need to change?
While you need your therapist to be honest with you and help you to identify the obstacles in your way, you need to feel safe. You need to feel that you are accepted without judgement, that your well-being is important, and that you are genuinely cared about. There must be a feeling of connection, an understanding that you are truly being heard and understood, in order for there to be trust. In order for there to be change.
This is, in all senses, the heart of therapy – the quality of the relationship, the knowledge that you are valued, and that your therapist is committed to helping you achieve the best outcome.