After decades of different schools trying to prove they had the best and most effective theories, increasingly more articles are coming up on the effectiveness of other variables than just the approach.
And increasingly more schools are integrating rather than separating, because it is clear there are things that work across approaches. One of them (one of the most important actually!) is the therapeutic relationship. And there are some factors that seem to mediate this relationship and improve its quality.
On the relational level, the therapist is expected to have empathy, offered with humility. The therapist should be in touch with their experience and their attachment style, so they don’t project that on the client. For some clients it can be important, in order to feel a connection with their therapist, to choose someone who has faced similar social struggles (could mean belonging to the same community, sharing the same race/gender). The flexibility of the therapist is also of fundamental importance: being a professional does not mean having all the right answers, or teaching something. There is always room for improvement and admitting mistakes.
Kindness strengthens this bond, as well as respect and warmth.
Therapists are not guides, teachers, or flawless people. With constant and passionate dedication, they build their expertise, treat the relationship with their clients with care and attention and provide presence. Before following any method or approach, they are people who believe there is growth in insight, awareness, listening to one’s emotions and needs, feeling a sense of efficacy and self-worth. First, they learn that for themselves. And then, they can help someone else find their way.
Much of the healing is the relationship.