Therapeutic Relationships: A Model for Effective Care

The therapeutic relationship is essential to a positive outcome when helping another person. In Therapeutic Presence; A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy by Shari M. Geller and Leslie S. Greenberg, the premise is that the helper needs to have the whole self in the encounter on a multiplicity of levels. The model they propose includes:

Preparing the Ground for Presence

In life: philosophical commitment to presence, practicing presence in life and relationships, meditation and spiritual practices, personal growth, ongoing attention to personal needs and concerns

In session: intention of presence, clearing a space, letting go of self-concerns and issues, bracketing (theories, preconceptions, therapy plans), attitude of openness, acceptance, interest, and nonjudgement

Process of Presence

Receptivity: open, accepting, allowing, sensory/bodily receptivity, listening with a third ear, inclusion, expanded or enhanced awareness, extrasensory level of communication

Inwardly attending: self as instrument, increased spontaneity/creativity, trust, authenticity and congruence, returning to the present moment

Extending: accessible, meeting, transparency/congruence, intuitive responding

Experience of Therapeutic Presence

Grounding: centered/steady/whole, inclusion trust and ease

Immersion: absorption, experiencing deeply with nonattachment, present centered, aware/alert/focused

Expansion: timelessness, energized/flowing, spaciousness, enhanced awareness of sensation and perception, enhanced quality of thought and emotional experiencing

Being with and for the Client: intention of client’s healing, awe, respect, love, absence of ego involvement or self-consciousness

The authors believe that therapeutic stance supports the deep listening and understanding of the client in the moment. As Christian helpers, this book is useful to address a more holistic way of being with a client; especially addressing the life of the helper to reduce burnout, decrease anxiety, and increase vitality and joy.

(Part of the model was adopted from “Therapeutic Presence: Therapist’s Experiences of Presence in the Psychotherapeutic Encounter,” by S.M. Geller and L.S Greenberg, Person Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, PCCS Books, 2002)


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