What Is Relational Psychotherapy?
Relational Psychotherapy is a form of therapy that is driven by clients’ needs and experiences. Relational Psychotherapy offers a safe and empathetic environment for clients to bring their concerns and needs forth and together with the help of the therapist to embark on a healing, empowering journey.
These are the principals that the theory is based on: Relational psychotherapy is a powerful, effective model for working with individuals who suffer from chronic emotional, psychological, and/or relational distress. Relational psychotherapy is based on the following principles:
* Emotional well- being depends on having satisfying
mutual relationships with others.
* Emotional distress is often rooted in patterns or relational
experiences, past and present, which have the power to
demean and deaden the self.
* The relational therapist tries to understand the client's
unique self-experience in his/her social/relational context
and to respond with empathy and genuine presence.
* Together, client and therapist create a new in- depth
relationship which is supportive, strengthening, and
enlivening for the client.
* Within this secure relationship, the client can safely re-
experience, and then find freedom from the powerful
effects of destructive relationships past and present.
Relational therapists help clients understand, on the one hand, their own patterns of thoughts and feelings about themselves, and on the other hand, the power of significant relationships, past and present, to shape this self-experience. Through the interpersonal process of therapeutic interaction, relational therapy strengthens and transforms a client's sense of self, which in turn enhances his or her confidence and well-being in the world. Empowerment and growth through interpersonal connection are both the process and the goal of relational psychotherapy.
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“WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE TINY MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
With this perspective on therapy and relationship, a relational therapist takes seriously the interpersonal impact of power differentials and social issues such as race, class, culture, gender, and sexual difference, and works with these issues as they are present in the client's life and in the therapy relationship.
The principles of relational psychotherapy taught by the Toronto Institute for Relational Psychotherapy are drawn from self psychology, inter subjectivity theory, relational psychoanalysis, psycho dynamic developmental theory, trauma theory, and feminist theories of psychotherapy.