Taking the first step… what is a therapeutic relationship?
The feeling of picking up the phone, the butterflies in the tummy, the anxiety on that first meeting. What will s(he) think of me? What will I say? What if I haven’t anything to say? I don’t want to sit in silence, I can’t bare silence. What if my problems aren’t bad enough or she doesn’t understand them? What if I cry too much or I can’t get my words out?
The thought processes we have can stop us from moving forward, from changing, challenging and growing. The feelings associated with those first steps of entering any relationship are completely normal. You can get a feel of a person from meeting them, sense if you can be in a room with them, build courage with them, take a step back with them, as well as a step forward. And on the other hand, this can take a little time.
There is something quite special about the building of a therapeutic relationship. Don’t get me wrong, good work can be done in short term ‘interventions’ which can be and often are successful. For goals that may need a little more time, there is something about building a therapeutically working relationship and allowing yourself to settle in (and buckle up).
With any firsts there is the unknown. The lack of predictability, security and maybe control. The feelings can be associated with a first date or an interview, unfamiliarity and pressure. I can’t imagine how many people would benefit from talking and don’t to avoid these feelings.
To take the first step, take a deep breath. What is a therapeutic relationship? Two people in a room, talking and in that moment, both have one shared, unspoken goal. To have a think about what is going on for one of the people in the room. The relationship that is built from then on will be like no other and is between you and your therapist.
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About Lisa Sanders
I have been working with people for 12 years and for the last eight years as a counsellor and psychotherapist. I work with a large range of issues from mild anxiety or low mood to personality disorders, self harming/suicidal thoughts and relationship problems. I am passionate about the therapeutic relationship and it’s healing potential.