A RELATIONAL APPROACH
Relational psychotherapy, in theoretical terms, is an approach to psychotherapy that brings together branches of various schools of thought: psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, self psychology, intersubjectivity, object relations, humanistic, relational-cultural, trauma-informed and feminist. In practice, though, what might that look like?
As a relational psychotherapist I will pay close attention to your experience of attachment and relationships with other people and the one between us, as it develops. Much of our discussion will focus on your most significant relationships (intimate partners, family, friends, professional) and sometimes what might be emerging between us, as client and therapist. I will encourage you to reflect on and actively inquire of yourself what you feel are the relational patterns you experience in your life. I will want to know how you grew up in your family, who was around you, what happened in your younger life and how you learned -perhaps from a very early age- to be in relationship with (or in disconnection from) others. Our work may consist of exploring trauma and loss and our aim will be to work together to integrate those experiences in a way that is more healed or resolved for you.
Our attention will continually be drawn to your organizing principles: the ways in which you organize your experiences, the meanings that you give to things that happen in relationships and the fundamental belief system that you have about yourself and how things transpire between you and others. Together, we will look at how your current and past relationships make imprints on how you feel about yourself and your life.
In working relationally I ensure that you will be supported in a balanced way that values your existing resources, boundaries and autonomy. I will pay close attention to your specific needs for feedback and guidance from me and strive to offer you my perspective, through the relationship we build together. As part of that, I will attune to your need for challenge, to help you see beyond what's visible to you at present and to help you find different ways of experiencing the events of your life. In therapy with me you can expect a process of exploring what changes are possible within yourself and in the interpersonal part of your life.
In building a relational narrative for yourself, questions that we may explore together will be along the lines of:
*How am I affected today by the way I experienced my family relationships as a child?
*How am I affected today by my social environment and people I've encountered in the world around me?
*What needs am I trying to have met in my adult relationships that are actually older, unmet needs from childhood?
*Why does a familiar pattern keep appearing in my adult relationships?
*What feedback do I get from people who I am in relationships with?
*What common assumptions do I make in my relationships that seem to cause problems for me?
*Do I feel really connected in my relationships, or do I keep myself out of connection? Why do I do that?
*If I want to open myself up to connection, what kind of vulnerability would I expose myself to and what pain am I afraid of?