People Engaging Each Other: A Dual-Perspective Study of Interpersonal Processes in Useful Therapy
To explore how clients and therapists experience and engage in a therapeutic relationship which the client can make use of.
We explored 11 psychotherapy dyads using in-depth qualitative methods. Selected dyads were ones in which the client experienced the therapy as useful. The data collection method was serial interviews with both therapists and clients. Therapists and clients were interviewed separately, four and two times, respectively, about their personal development, their views on and experiences with therapy, and their collaboration in the concrete therapeutic dyad. Transcripts of interviews were analyzed using a hermeneutic phenomenological qualitative analysis. The analysis yielded an overarching theme identifed as “engaging each other.” This theme consisted of three constituent processes, developed from complementary descriptions from clients and therapists: (1) opening up to an encounter between humans, (2) trusting professionality, and (3) creating space for an unbearable story. We discuss how technical skill and personal warmth underlie the development of a helping relationship within which humans can open up to a personal encounter with sufering. We discuss how the personal aspect of the therapist position relates to psychotherapy as a moral practice, and suggest that this perspective is meaningful in understanding the therapist factor and the real relationship.