By Fonya Lord Helm, Ph.D., ABPP

treelineSuccessful therapy depends on being in a relationship that is respectful, understanding, and confidential, so that you feel safe enough to talk about feelings and life challenges that you would not discuss with most people.

Your contribution to the creation of a good therapeutic relationship is just as important as mine, since research consistently emphasizes the importance of a good relationship that is created by both people.  While each of us has a different role, we both have the same ability to participate in a thoughtful way with hope for the future.

Our conversations will lead to deeper understanding of the patterns that have caused the challenges that you already have been working on solving and overcoming by yourself.  We will think together about the patterns that occur, both on a large and small scale, in your relationships with the people who are important to you.

Understanding your strengths and how you have managed to handle your life challenges so far is an important part of the process.  I also need to be able to understand when you tell me things people ordinarily don’t want to hear, such as observations about our work together and even criticisms.   Your ideas about how the therapy is going will be very helpful to me and will increase the effectiveness of our therapeutic process.  Being able to learn from unpleasant information is a skill we both need to continue to develop, since unpleasant feelings and problems provide opportunities for growth.

We also can talk about gratitude, love, and other good things, too.  Humor is very important as part of the process, even though psychotherapy is a serious commitment and a thoughtful inquiry.