Relational psychotherapy is a powerful, effective model for working with individuals who suffer from chronic emotional, psychological, and/or relational distress.

A relational therapist takes seriously the impact of differences in power and social issues such as race, class, culture, gender, and sexual difference, and works with these issues in the client's life and in the therapy relationship.

Relational psychotherapy is based on the following principles:

  • Emotional well-being depends on having satisfying mutual relationships with others.
  • Emotional distress is often rooted in patterns of relational experience, past and present, which have the power to demean and deaden the self.
  • The relational therapist tries to understand the client's unique self-experience in its social/relational context and to respond with empathy and genuine presence.
  • Together, client and therapist create a new in-depth relationship which is supportive, strengthening, and enlivening for the client.
  • Within this secure relationship, the client can safely re-experience, and then find freedom from, the powerful effects of destructive relationships, past and present.

Relational therapists help clients understand, on the one hand, their own patterns of thoughts and feelings about themselves, and on the other hand, the power of significant relationships, past and present, to shape this self-experience. Through the interpersonal process of therapeutic interaction, relational therapy strengthens and transforms a client's sense of self, which in turn enhances his or her confidence and well-being in the world. Empowerment and growth through interpersonal connection are both the process and the goal of relational psychotherapy.

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From the website of the Toronto Institute of Relational Psychotherapy

Paintings courtesy of Ian Wallace, aka "Nion."   Web site designed by Sonya Shannon.