James Bugental on the unique, changing nature of therapeutic relationship

‘The ideal therapeutic relationship is continually evolving and changing. It is not a way of being together, which is established early in the participants’ relation and remains unchanged; instead it is constantly changing as the work progresses and as the needs of the participants emerge. At one point, the therapist may be relatively passive and concentrating solely on demonstrating understanding and acceptance; at other times, it will be appropriate to be highly active, confronting, and persistent. At some points the client will look for guidance or support; while at other times the need may be to challenge any lead from the therapist and to insist on one’s own way of proceeding. A good therapeutic relationship, to my mind, is not specifiable in general or in the abstract. It is flexible, unique in important ways to the two participants at any given time. The same therapist will have a different relationship with each individual client and the same client would have a different relationship with another therapist.’

James Bugental – Psychotherapy and Process: The Fundamentals of an Existential-Humanistic Approach

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994


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