Therapy Toronto Psychotherapy Definitions

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Relational psychotherapy is a powerful, effective model for working with individuals who suffer from chronic emotional, psychological, and/or relational distress.

Relational psychotherapy is based on the following principles:

Emotional well-being depends on having satisfying mutual relationships with others.

Emotional distress is often rooted in patterns of relational experience, past and present, which have the power to demean and deaden the self.

The relational therapist tries to understand the client's unique self-experience in its social/relational context and to respond with empathy and genuine presence.

Together, client and therapist create a new in-depth relationship which is supportive, strengthening, and enlivening for the client.

Within this secure relationship, the client can safely re-experience, and then find freedom from, the powerful effects of destructive relationships, past and present.

Relational psychotherapy balances the study of structures or patterns of self experience with the study of persons in interpersonal process. Through the interpersonal process of therapeutic interaction, relational therapy strengthens and transforms a client's sense of self, which in turn enhances his or her confidence and well-being in the world. Empowerment and growth through interpersonal connection are both the process and the goal of relational psychotherapy.

With this perspective on therapy and relationship, a relational therapist takes seriously the interpersonal impact of power differentials and social issues such as race, class, culture, gender, and sexual difference, and works with these issues as they are present in the client's life and in the therapeutic relationship.

The principles of relational psychotherapy are drawn from self psychology, intersubjectivity theory, relational psychoanalysis, psychodynamic developmental theory, trauma theory, and feminist theories of psychotherapy.