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What impact has the relational approach had on personal therapists

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Relational needs are about achieving a good quality of emotional and psychological life and an active sense of one’s self- in relationships.Relational counseling is a process of broadening enabling a client to become aware of new ways of living. Relational counseling is a process of broadening i.e. enabling a client to become aware of new ways of living, of being. On the other hand it involves a narrowing – a realization of which choices are actually possible and can be developed. How often is someone with psychological problems described as ‘withdrawn’ i.e. uninvolved with others? They are experiencing long-standing problems which interfere with their quality of life, and that is reflected in the way they deal with relationships. Earlier psychotherapy tended to be based upon a model based upon quantitative research or would be a symptom-based medical model with ‘patients’ rather than clients. A relational psychology approach is one which challenges some of these long held ideas used in more established types of therapy. Its main idea is that people need to establish authentic relationships and failure to do this ( sometimes referred to as disconnection) is the major source of psychological difficulties. The relational counselor must be able to develop as a reflexive practitioner, capable of reflecting on the client, on themselves as therapist and the therapeutic process that builds between them and their clients. Although the counselors involved are skilled practitioners, this type of therapy is not the usual doctor /patient relationship where one is the expert and the other merely an empty vessel to be filled with a suitable medication. Instead there must be dual input, a much more co-operative situation, which may take some adjustment of attitudes for those who began their counseling careers using more traditional methods. The History of Relational Psychotherapy As long ago as 1964 Gendlin described two factors needed for change. Firstly such a change must involve more than a cognitive understanding of the problem. There must a true connection with feelings. Such change is most often experienced with in an ongoing relationship. In the case of changes within a therapeutic situation the client needs to engage both with their own feelings and also with the therapist. The reflective presence of a therapist can assist the client to become more aware of the feelings they are going through. The weakness of such an approach could be, if care is not taken, is that the client becomes dependent and attached to the therapist, rather than moving on into other relationships with those in his world outside the therapeutic environment. Various theorists over time have come up with different descriptions of the various relational needs of mankind as they see them, but there is a great deal of overlap between the various schools of thought. Some for instance stress the needs for such attachments and links during childhood, but in the majority of cases there is agreement that such relational needs last lifelong. Needs will be individual to each person – someone who lost his father at an early age for instance may spend considerable effort even into adulthood seeking a father figure. The anonymous article ‘The psychology of relationships: relational needs’ ( 2006) mentions the work of Kohut and his twinning theory i.e. that we seek out someone we see as being similar to ourselves – someone who delights in what we delight in, someone with whom to share life’s experiences, someone to share with. Kohut also describes what he calls idealization – the need to have someone in our lives who is somehow bigger than we are – someone to be relied on when the going gets tough. In childhood that person is often a parent, in adult life it could be a partner or friend or even God himself. The Purpose of Relational Therapy The objective of the relational therapist is to work with clients in order that they can develop an understanding of