The therapeutic relationship refers to the relationship between a clinical provider and a patient or client. The clinical provider, in the case of Gaithersburg Counseling Center, is either a Licensed Social Worker or a Licensed Counselor and also known as a psychotherapist, counselor or therapist. The relationship that is developed between client and therapist can be a powerful tool for change and is a unique relationship whereby the client often shares their innermost experiences, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The therapist is charged with creating a safe, non-judgmental space for the client to do so, without reciprocating the same divulgence of information, as the focus of this relationship is the client.
Many people who have not been in therapy before do not know what to expect from this type of relationship as this is a new dynamic; therefore, therapists need to explain and demonstrate appropriate boundaries with their clients and show clients how the relationship will work. Therapists create and nourish this therapeutic relationship by demonstrating their ability to be trustworthy, genuine and accept clients as they are. Therapists actively listen to their clients and can provide an objective viewpoint to the client’s life circumstances that have often led them to seek out therapy in the first place. The constraints of this confidential relationship need to be outlined in the first session, primarily when it comes to what is not confidential; i.e., if a client is a danger to himself or others or a client has been harmed, the therapist is mandated to report this information to the necessary authorities.
Therapeutic boundaries are especially important as the relationship develops; it is helpful for this relationship to develop appropriately so that the client is more inclined to share their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and therefore, the therapist can determine the most effective treatment to affect change. These boundaries are sometimes difficult to define and often unique to the therapist’s theoretical orientation. For example, it is not customary for a therapist to use physical touch with a client, but in the case of Reiki Treatment, this is an essential part of treatment. Also, therapists rarely share many details of their personal lives unless they feel it would benefit the client in some way.
Along with those boundaries, therapists are not ethically allowed to barter services with clients; i.e, if a client is a house painter, it is not ethical for them to paint your house in exchange for a session. Furthermore, it is not appropriate or ethically sound for therapists to have dual relationships with clients. They are not allowed to treat their house painter in therapy or be social friends with clients they are working with in therapy. In this media driven world, it is increasingly important for therapists to maintain these boundaries. Many therapists have added clauses to their contracts specifying that they cannot be friends with their clients on social media.
Overall, it is important to find a therapist with whom you can develop a healthy relationship. You can refer to the article “How to Choose the Right Therapist” (https://healingllc.com/2019/05/how-to-choose-the-right-therapist/) on our blog to read further about this search and if you are interested in obtaining more information or to schedule an appointment with a therapist at Gaithersburg Counseling Center, please contact us at (240) 274-5680 or Admin@HealingLLC.com. Or, you can visit our website at www.HealingLLC.com.
By Sara Rothleder, Director of Operations, Gaithersburg Counseling Center &
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP, Director and Psychotherapist, Gaithersburg Counseling Center