The most important factor in therapy
Often when we think of seeking help from a Psychologist, we think of finding someone qualified, knowledgeable and recommended. These factors are essential because having the right training increases the Psychologist's level of expertise and makes it more likely that they will know how to address your problem in an ethical and competent manner. However, there's another factor that is just as important, which is called the "therapuetic alliance" or the relationship between the therapist and client. This intangible quality is one of the most important factors in predicting whether the therapy will be beneficial for the client. A good therapuetic alliance enhances the trust between both parties. This trust is essential because the client often comes to therapy during a particularly vulnerable and often times painful time in their lives and therapy involves talking about painful experiences and having the courage to make changes.
Client's seeking psychological services sometimes ask how they will know if a Psychologist is the right fit for them. I think the best way to establish this is to meet the Psychologist and see if you feel that they are someone you can trust. If you don't feel comfortable, don't pursue it much longer, try someone else who might be more suited. Seeing a Psychologist should feel right and you should feel heard, understood and see your therapist as empathetic.
As a clinician, I always hold the "therapeutic alliance" at the forefront of my mind when I give clients feedback, challenge their thinking, or make recommendations for changes I think will benefit their mental health. I also seek regular feedback from clients on "how we are going" to address any possible ruptures in the relationship and ensure the treatment plan is on target. I see working with clients in therapy as two people working as a team to bring about better well being for the client. In my role of Psychologist I am often a coach, a mentor, a change advocate, and an empathetic being. Having a good therapeutic alliance facilitates these roles and allows the work of therapy to have the desired effect.
Article written by Tena Davies, Psychologist. The aim of this article is to give you ideas on well being. Please note this article is not intended to replace therapy.
Tena Davies is Clinical Psychologist and Certified Individual Schema Therapist (Standard). She is based in Fitzroy North, Victoria Australia. See www.tenadavies.com for more details.