The therapeutic relationship is unique in that for many clients, it is the first intimate connection they have had with another person where profound feelings, beliefs and thoughts are exposed. Counselling should provide the client with an open and safe setting that emphasizes self-exploration and change without the client feeling the need to censor or conform.
There are three important qualities a client should look for when seeking a therapist that Carl Rogers emphasized: empathy, genuineness and respect. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the client’s situation, feelings and motives. It provides the foundation for a therapeutic relationship because it establishes the personal connection. Traits of genuineness include being open, honest, and sincere and an absence of defensiveness and phoniness. This allows the client to be at ease and increases the opportunity for valuable inquiry and awareness. Respect establishes the safety that is essential in a counseling relationship. By accepting the client as a whole, including strengths and weaknesses, an environment has been established where profound issues can be brought to the surface for examination and transformation.
The client-therapist relationship is essential to establishing a successful outcome by promoting willingness for the client to share and engage with the counsellor. This promotes increased propensity toward self awareness and change in behavior, thoughts and beliefs. It is also important that counseling remain client focused by discussing and defining the goals of the client, rather than the counsellor imposing their own mandates and judgments. This further reinforces the vital characteristics of a positive helping alliance: empathy, genuineness and respect.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA