Posted on October 23, 2015 by Amy Rosechandler

Blog Post - Three foundations of a great helping relationship with your mental health therapist

When friends find out I am a therapist, I hear all sorts of questions and experiences. Some of the most common experiences people tell me about are stories of therapy gone wrong. Invariably I hear experiences of wasted time, frustrations about ‘weird’ therapists and therapists that didn’t work out. One of the first conversations I have with new clients focuses on previous experiences in treatment- what worked and didn’t work. If you are trying counseling for the first time, it’s important to talk about your expectations of therapy-what you hope for and what you think will work. One of my colleagues, Scott Miller, has dedicated his life’s work to studying what is effective in therapy and how the relationship with your therapist can be one of the most healing aspects of treatment. I’ll outline some of important aspects of “good therapy’ from his research findings and talk about some of my real life experiences guiding clients to wellness, focusing on ways to get the most out of therapy.

Know your goals

A common barrier to progress in therapy is the lack of collaborative goal development between therapist and client. My new clients ask me how to start working on what they really need. Clients who have experience with therapy sometimes tell me they’ve talked about things, but get stuck, fall back into old habits, or haven’t been able to follow through in ways that create lasting change. A solution to these stuck points in therapy can be to talk openly and often about how things in therapy are going-kind of like a quarterly ‘progress report’ in a business or school. It’s ok to challenge, question and give me feedback about therapy and how it is working for you in your life! We can only adjust and make changes to the treatment plan if we talk about it.

Working relationship

How are you and the therapist getting along? Does the relationship seem to hinder or support changes/help with problems you came to address in therapy?

My clients have told me that my ability to deeply listen, show true caring and understanding is like talking with a long-time, good friend. The relationships I have with clients have been life changing for me too. These relationships are some of the most cherished and deep connections I have in life-certainly vessels for growth!

Foundation of Respect and Honor

As a therapist, I am privileged to team up with you to solve problems, hear your courage as you face life’s challenges. Miller notes that clients who make good progress in therapy report feeling respected, heard and understood by their therapist. This foundation of respect and honor in our work together can help us tackle deep issues and develop trust. As therapist and client, we are two people coming from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences. I can more truly help you if I am listening from a place of respect, honor for your personal experience.

For more information about “Good Therapy”, check out Scott Miller’s website.

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