Psychotherapy – a medical or relational relationship?
Psychotherapy and Counselling began with Freud. Days before Neuroscience. Freud creatively created a way of thinking about others to help them to hep themselves. there was no proof for these theories simply that some people reported getting better as a result of this counselling relationship. What made them better or how they became better from their counselling was not evidenced.
Counselling theory became more rather than less convoluted. Arguable it became an academic practice from which to demonstrate a certain intellect. Along came attachment theory which is relationally based concerning how in our unconscious early life we learn the extent to which we can trust others; by extension the extent to which we have an intrinsic value.
Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic schools of psychotherapy depend on theory and medical models to inform their work through diagnosis; psychiatrists will diagnose an illness which can be medicated.
The key component of counselling is relationship, not simply because it is important to healing that the Counsellor and client are able to relate, but also because Counselling at it’s heart seeks to heal the consequences of relational rupture especially from early life.
Neuroscience shows that we have relational brains which are simply sponges full of neurons and dendrites that wait for a consistent positive experience in response to the fear that we have when we are born. Positive and negative experiences are recorded in neural pathways that represent our assumptions about the world in later life. A poor early relational experience can form the basis of anxiety, depression and worse ending with Trauma in some case.
Counselling and Psychotherapy seek to redress those poor relational experiences. Evidence now demonstrates that up to 80% of the effectiveness of counsellors and psychotherapists is based on the quality of relationship that they are able to develop with the client. Given that most mental heath problems start from poor relational experience it is logical sense that a consistently good experience can help to repair those feelings. Neuroscience demonstrates that neuroplasticity gives the brain the ability to change the neural pathways and to form different assumptions about the world.
Counselling and Psychotherapy are demonstrably able and evidentially proven to be an answer to the scourge of Mental Health difficulties.