Relational psychotherapy is the widely accepted term to describe the practice of assessing people’s psychic formation--the source of all of their interpersonal relations and conflicts--to ascertain the root of the issues at hand. This form of therapy is broadly recognized and is commonly used by practitioners and clinicians throughout the world. Unlike the traditional view that states that organized drivers and characteristics are the foundation of our psychic structure, relational sychotherapy focuses on connectedness to others.
This technique can be applied to people who are challenged with psychological, emotional, and relational distress and present chronic suffering. The following principles are at the core of relational psychotherapy:
- In order for a person to be emotionally healthy, he or she must maintain fulfilling and satisfying relationships with those around them.
- Stress and emotional upheaval are often the result of past relational experiences and inhibit the present self from full expression.
- The therapist administering relational psychotherapy provides an atmosphere of empathy and attentiveness in order to elicit a full disclosure of the client’s experiences, events, and the affects they have had both relationally and socially.
- Both client and therapist work together to forge a strong, uplifting and secure relationship that serves as a model for future relationships the client will strive to develop. This exercise provides a reference for which the client can compare other relationships and can measure them against the supportive one to determine if they are constructive or destructive.
Relational psychotherapy combines the behavioral patterns of a client’s experiences with the examination of interpersonal relationships. By facilitating a safe and positive relationship in the security of the therapeutic environment, the client is armed with a stronger sense of self and confidence. The primary goal of this technique is to empower the client with the skills necessary to recognize and create productive and healthy relationships. Every area of social and cultural relevance is considered when working in this type of environment, including race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. The therapist strives to address any and all past and present relationship traumas or impressions that have served to create discord in the present life circumstances of the client.
Relational psychotherapy was developed by Alfred North Whitehead, John Cobb, Jr., Catherine Keller, and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki.
Last updated: 09-15-2015