In the initial conversation that I have with new clients I often get a question regarding my particular approach to counselling. While the answer I give will certainly change over time as I am committed to continue to grow as a counsellor, keeping informed on new interventions and ideas, there are certainly aspects of my approach as a counsellor that I believe will hold steady over time.
The first aspect of my approach that I relate to clients is my belief in the centrality of the client-therapist relationship to counselling. In the words of scholars, “the quality of the client–therapist alliance is a reliable predictor of positive clinical outcome independent of the variety of psychotherapy approaches and outcome measures.”(Ardito & Rabellino, 2011, p. 270) In the words of famed psychotherapist Irvin Yalom, “It’s the relationship that heals.”(Yalom, 1989, p. 112) In my own words, what matters most for a positive outcome from counselling therapy is not which approach we use, but the relationship we build. The relationship between therapist and client is the most important determiner of whether counselling therapy will help to address the problems you bring to therapy, and so it is at the base of everything else that we do in this work.
In line with this, I approach therapy as a pragmatist, hoping to use approaches based on their usefulness rather than out of my personal allegiance to them. Holding the relationship in central focus allows me to hold various approaches loosely and to use them as they are effective. While I do have approaches that I find useful in many situations and that I am drawn to—person-centered therapy, Adlerian Therapy, and Narrative Therapy to name a few—the primary way that I navigate therapeutic interventions is not by what I find interesting but by what the client finds helpful.
Ardito, R. B., & Rabellino, D. (2011). Therapeutic Alliance and Outcome of Psychotherapy:
Historical Excursus, Measurements, and Prospects for Research. Frontiers in Psychology, 2. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00270
Yalom, I. (1989). Love’s Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy. Harper Perennial.