Relational Therapy: What Is It, Key Concepts, Benefits, What To Expect & More
Do you find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships at work and socially? Do you find that your relationships affect your health – social and emotional?
Then relational psychotherapy is for you!
We, humans, thrive on social connections and social support. We need meaningful relationships to support us during tough times. Not only relationships are important to boost our social wellness but also to maintain a stable emotional connection and well-being.
Relational psychotherapy believes that to have strong emotional health, a person must have a meaningful and satisfying relationship with people near and dear to them. The purpose of relational therapy is to treat the psychological and emotional distress a person is going through.
In this article, we’ll explore what is relational psychotherapy, the key concepts of relational therapy, what you can expect from it, how it benefits you, and how it is different from other therapy approaches.
What Is Relational Therapy?
Relational therapy is one of the approaches to psychodynamic psychotherapy that believes that to be emotionally and psychologically healthy, a person must have rewarding and strong, valid, and healthy relationships with people around them.
If a person’s depressed or anxious, then according to relational therapy, those feelings can be traced back to unhealthy or toxic relationships. These relationships can be; friends, colleagues, family, etc.
This therapy is beneficial for all those seeking therapy for any issues where relational tension is the cause of their emotional and mental distress.
Key Concepts Of Relational Therapy
The key principles or concepts of relational psychodynamic therapy are as follows:
- Connection: To have well-balanced emotional and psychological well-being, a person must have trusting connections with others. Disconnection can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders.
- Authenticity: For emotional or mental stability and for a relationship to be successful, a person must be authentic and true to themselves.
- Past Matters: Past relationships determine the nature of our present and future relationships. Our past affects how we act in our present relationships.
- Therapeutic Alliance: The therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist acts as a model relationship to help you heal other relationships in your life.
- Social & Cultural Acceptance: Unlike other therapy approaches, relational therapy takes in factors such as culture, social status, etc in mind to see how relationships are being affected.
What To Expect From Relational Therapy?
Relational psychotherapy aims to help people struggling with maintaining healthy and stable relationships. It is believed that the lack of meaningful relationships in a person’s life can cause issues such as mood disorders, social anxiety, addiction, trauma, or other conditions.
Relational therapy helps people learn how to be more self-aware of their past relationships pattern and behavior that prevents them from maintaining healthy and strong relationships. The therapy also helps a person develop skills they might need to improve existing relationships.
Relational therapy is an integrative form of psychotherapy that utilizes theories and practices from self-psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy.
One session of relational therapy is usually 60-minute long where the therapist may ask about your family history, current relationships, and past relationship experiences. It is imperative to note that a therapist may ask about your race, culture, social status, gender, sexual orientation, etc, to determine your disconnection.
Benefits Of Relational Therapy
Benefits of relational therapy can be:
- Increased mental and emotional stability
- Increased motivation
- Decreased power struggles
- Relationship satisfaction
- Decreased urge to push others away
- Improved trust
- Improved self-esteem
- Better self-awareness
It is not easy to prove the effectiveness of relational therapy, and it is important to note that, unlike other therapy approaches, relational therapy is less commonly used. However, this psychotherapy approach does use theories and practices from evidence-based therapy approaches such as psychoanalytic therapy, person-centered therapy, and attachment therapy.
What Can Relational Therapy Help Treat?
Relational therapy can help treat issues such as:
- Relationship Issues
- Poor Self-Esteem
- Trust Issues
- Social Anxiety
- Eating Disorders
- Workplace Issues
Relational therapy can benefit people with mental health disorders or mood disorders but it is not recommended for people with an avoidant personality disorder.
Relational Therapy Examples
1. Relational Therapy For Attachment Disorders
Relational psychodynamic therapy can help a person learn how to set healthy boundaries and secure attachments.
2. Relational Therapy For Social Anxiety
Relational therapy offers a safe space for people with social anxiety to learn how to be true, authentic, and connect with others using empathy and a non-judgmental approach.
3. Relational Therapy For Trauma
Trauma can lead to trust issues but with relational therapy, a person can learn how to carefully restore trust with empathy.
4. Relational Therapy For Mood
Relational therapy provides a safe space where a person can explore their moods and emotions. The therapy is cathartic and expressive to help relieve repressed emotions.
How Is Relational Therapy Different Than Other Therapy Approaches?
Relational therapy primarily focuses on:
- The way you connect with others.
- It regards stress, anxiety, and depression with an inability to connect with others.
- Social and cultural acceptance when it comes to connecting with others.
- A strong therapeutic relationship.
Relational therapy is a psychodynamic approach that focuses on relationships and the role they play in our life and life experiences. To have mental and emotional stability, you need to have strong and healthy relationships with others.
I hope this article helped you understand what relational therapy is, how it helps, its key concepts, and what to expect from relational psychodynamic therapy.
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