The importance of the relationship in counselling and psychotherapy.

My previous post touched on the importance of the therapeutic relationship between a therapist and client. I believe that so much that is good in life is about making connections and achieving relational contact and this is the same in therapy. The ability to build trusting, honest and creative relationships is one of the major agents of effective change. Feeling safe within this relationship can allow you to explore and experience feelings that might be too difficult to face on your own.

Bowlby states that ‘the therapist’s role has been likened to that of a mother who provides her child with a secure base from which to explore’ (Bowlby, 1988, p.172) and sometimes the therapist will ‘model’ by giving the client a relationship that they never had, to enable them to grow and learn. Reparative enactments of early attachment experiences can be fundamental to healing and I shall write in a future post about how early life experiences can effect our current lived experiences.

Despite many different theoretical approaches, the relationship is acknowledged by many theorists to be paramount, and Erskine et al. (1999) state that the underlying and essential element of successful therapy is the relationship. For me, this is summed up best by Carl Rogers (1995, quoted in Bager-Charleson, 2010, p.81) who writes of moments in the relationship when ‘deep realness in one meets a realness in the other’.

If we can achieve those connections, those moments of deep realness, I believe we are truly experiencing life and healing at its best.


Bager-Charleson, S. (2010) Reflective practice in counselling and psychotherapy. London: Sage.

Bowlby, J. (1988) A secure base. Abingdon: Routledge.

Erskine, R., Moursand, J., and Trautmann, R. (1999) Beyond empathy: a therapy of contact-in-relationship. London: Routledge.

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