What is a Relational Counsellor?

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.

Louise Bourgeois Together 2005

Together , Loiuse Bourgeois, 2005 (detail).

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 in Gestalt), our experience of Self is considered to be entirely constructed at the perceived boundary between ourselves and others. This is how important the relational is considered to be!

The Relational Counsellor

In our practice, and in our view, the Relational 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.

We as Relational Counsellors practice either in the context of Personal Counselling, Couple Counselling or Family Counselling.

What Makes a Good Relational Counsellor?

For us, a good Relational 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 Relational Counsellor who has not done their own personal work will tend to operate from theory alone.