Timuluk, L. & Keogh, D. (2017). The client’s perspective on (experiences of) psychotherapy: A practice-friendly review. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73, 1556-1567.
Psychotherapy studies that ask clients for their perspective on the treatment or therapist are surprisingly rare. Researchers have conducted such studies over many decades, but there exist very few of them. This is curious given that respecting clients’ preferences for types of therapy or for therapists’ behaviors is predictive of good mental health outcomes. Giving voice to clients’ perspectives is consistent with the notion that psychotherapy is a co-constructed endeavour rather than something that a therapist does to a client (as is the case for a medical intervention). In this review, Timuluk and Keogh review the research in which patients were interviewed for their perspective on a wide range of aspects of psychotherapy. The research indicates a number of things that clients value, that help, and that hinder their progress in therapy. Clients value a number of therapist traits like friendliness, warmth, respect, offering appropriate guidance, and understanding. This research showed that clients recognize that the relationship (i.e., the alliance) has therapeutic effects. Clients report that many forms of therapist behaviors help to develop a therapeutic alliance including eye contact, smiling, warm personalized greetings, paraphrasing, identifying client feelings, and referring to material from previous sessions. Clients find some events in therapy to be unhelpful or that hinder their progress, like feeling exposed and unprotected, being emotionally overwhelmed, and feeling misunderstood by the therapist.
Although clients do value therapist expertise in applying therapeutic techniques, they hold therapist personal qualities like warmth, authenticity, honesty, and dedication as necessary prerequisites for therapy. Clients view the therapist’s interpersonal manner as key to forming a therapeutic relationship. It is important that therapists are aware of how they feel towards a client (countertransference), and how these feelings might impact the way in which they communicate through body language, tone of voice, and behaviors. Effective therapists are willing to seek their client’s perspectives, and are open and non-defensive about what a client has to say about the therapy or therapist, even if negative. Therapist openness to feedback will inevitably lead to a stronger relationship and collaboration with the client, and to better outcomes for the client.
….”Therapists will find that fitting the therapy to clients’ culture, stage of change, religion/spirituality, reactance/resistance, coping style, and attachment style will improve Given that everyone comes into therapy with their presenting issues, race, religion and varying life events and experience in hope for a better outcome, following sessions.
Providing and adapting therapy treatment plans to the particular client diagnosis, is the essence of creating and maintaining client – therapist alliance. The results of this large body of evidence suggests that the role of a therapist is: to ensure clients are appropriately accommodatde, by asking the question “what relationship, adaptation, and approach will be most effective with this particular client”.
Many benefits derives from seeking out and accessing therapy, one can liken therapy services like a “cause and effect’ reaction, you get out of therapy what you put into it, in terms of how you access services and apply strategies obtained from the process into practice.
Consider some of these benefits outlined below obtained from therapy:
Produces life lasting effects that become a life teacher for all future challenges
Individuals, families and couples benefit from a neutral, un biased third party
Develops coping strategies and skills necessary for pro-social relationships
Invest time in working out problems in a non-judgemental environment
Gain a better understanding of self and interpersonal relationships from viewing the situation from a different perspective
Enter into a safe space to talk about self and address issues that led you to seek therapy
Freedom to express thoughts, feelings and emotions and work through goals to resolve presenting issues
Physical symptoms get treated without the risk of relapse after therapy is discontinued
Talk therapy can help clarify the thought pattern and thinking process which better helps manage negative physiological symptoms experienced when the body is under stress
Acts as a stress reliever knowing you have unconditional weekly built in support to help you cope with your stressors
Replaces old behaviour patterns with new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence