Years ago I asked many of the individuals with whom I worked with “What accounted for your improvement in treatment?” Not infrequently, instead of attributing their improvement to the therapeutic strategies, they would often come up with something like “You believed in me” as the vital factor. As I have mentioned in the past, it is imperative to obtain the meanings relating to the individuals’ beliefs about themselves, but also the meanings surrounding the individuals’ perceptions of the therapist’s attitudes.
One of our favorite ways of achieving the meaning of a given activity, aspiration, etc. is simply asking the individual for help that you genuinely would like to receive. In the past, such advice given on the part of the individual was directed towards details of infant care, preparing a soufflé (or cooking in general), playing a sport, etc. However, working on a project together is likely to be even more fulfilling. All of these activities convey to the individual “You really respect me…You have faith in my instructions….etc.” Your expression of satisfaction when an individual completes a project or reaches a milestone similarly conveys a sense that you are being friendly and supportive. This drives the individual further towards reaching his or her aspirations and importantly, conveys the meaning “You have confidence in me and my ability to achieve my aspiration.”
While we can recognize the significance in obtaining the meanings of activities and aspirations, the initial steps in accessing those meanings need to be spelled as well. This highlights some of the important features of CT-R, namely, that the therapeutic relationship should be highly authentic and genuine, and further, the way to achieve this is through identifying with the individual in a holistic and humanistic way.
Genuineness on the therapist’s part can also be attained at the most basic level by having the therapist see the individual’s progress as their own. Another part of building a genuine relationship relates to the idea that individuals may attach great significance to your verbal and non-verbal behavior towards them.For example, when an individual has sustained a setback or has accomplished a task, the individual will attach important meaning to your expression of sympathetic understanding or pleasure regarding their success experience.In addition, the clinician should aim to understand the person’s values, past history, family, yearnings, etc.
Of course, the ideal result of the therapy would be to instill sense of personal appreciation which could be reflected in a statement such as “I believe in me”.