Helpful Aspects of the Therapeutic Relationship in Integrative Psychotherapy

Karmen Urška Modic, Gregor Žvelc

Abstract


This article describes a qualitative study of helpful aspects of the therapeutic relationship in Integrative Psychotherapy. Participants of the study were sixteen clients who were in the process of Integrative Psychotherapy for at least a year. Participants were interviewed with the adapted version of the Change Interview (Elliott, 1999), which involves a semi-structured empathic exploration of the client's experience in therapy. The analysis of the clients’ experience of Integrative Psychotherapy revealed six categories of helpful aspects of therapeutic relationship: the therapist’s empathic attunement, the therapist’s acceptance, the match between the client and the therapist, feelings of trust and safety, feeling of connection, and experience of a new relational experience. Based on results of the research, we developed a model of the healing relationship in integrative psychotherapy. This model describes the interrelatedness of these six helpful aspects of the therapeutic relationship. The categories of empathic attunement and acceptance proved to be the most important categories relating to the therapist’s contribution to the healing therapeutic relationship. Clients described that the therapist’s empathic attunement and acceptance influenced the development of safety and trust, feelings of connection and promotion of new relational experiences. The results of this study are discussed in relation to the theories of Integrative Psychotherapy and research regarding the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy. 


Keywords


Integrative Psychotherapy; therapeutic relationship; helpful aspects of psychotherapy; significant events in psychotherapy; qualitative research in psychotherapy

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