What is the Relational?
We trained in Gestalt Therapy, which takes a strongly relational approach to psychotherapy and counselling. In Gestalt, “relational” refers to the primacy processes within the individual to do with engaging with others.
We spent a lot of time in our training involved in workshops and experiential processes, to really understand how the relational is central to, and mediates, our experience of the world. It’s a very practical approach.
The relational is about what happens at the boundary between people: where we make contact with them.
In fact, in a relational theory of Self (such as Gestalt), our experience of Self is considered to be entirely constructed at the contact boundary itself. This is how important the relational is considered!
The Relationship Counsellor
In our practice, and in our view, the Relationship Counsellor takes a humanistic or person-centred approach to working with a person or a couple; on issues around their experience of other people in their intimate, family, work and public lives.
The Relationship Counsellor goes by other names – such as Relationship Therapist and Psychotherapist.
We tend to reserve the words Couples Counsellor and Marriage Counsellor for when the counsellor is working with a couple.The Family Counsellor is another category, used when working with two or more members of a family or other group.
What Makes a Good Relationship Counsellor?
For us, a good Relationship Counsellor needs to have examined their own ways of relating, and have carefully considered how these have been modified and filtered by their own experiences (such as those that occurred early in life).
This can usually happen only through their own personal therapy – doing the deep work on themselves and on how they navigate relationships. This learning is supported by a relational psychotherapeutic training.
A Relationship Counsellor who has not done their own personal work will tend to operate from theory alone.
- See also: Is your relationship really breaking down?