Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

The Secret Lives of Clients

Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

The Secret Lives of Clients

Article excerpt

What really makes therapy work? Clinicians invest prodigious amounts of time and energy trying to find out--comparing notes with colleagues, poring over journals, attending workshops, reflecting on their own recent sessions. But how often do therapists go to the source--their own clients--for wisdom on this vital question?

The essays that follow tap that primary source. Each piece is written by a former client who dives deeply--and often irreverently--into an experience with a memorable therapist. These writers describe their moment-to-moment experience of the process, from their vivid first impression of a therapist to the inevitable derailments, repairs, boundary crossings, flashes of intimacy, confrontations, and surprise discoveries. The phony responses and the genuine ones. The moments when neither person has the foggiest idea what to do, and the client knows it.

But more than anything, these pieces explore the precise alchemy of a relationship--the very particular connection between one client and one therapist. By now, both the field's intuitive wisdom and decades of outcome research point to the same conclusion: therapy is inescapably "about the relationship." But what does that mean? And, when therapy works, what singular rhythms in the rapport between client and clinician actually make the difference?

These essays make no claim to broadly (or even narrowly) represent the therapeutic experience. Certainly, the therapists who come to life in these pages wouldn't galvanize everybody; some clients might find them unremarkable, off-putting, or even threatening. …

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