"A New Therapy for Each Client."
In his influential book The Gift of Therapy (2002), master E-H therapist Irv Yalom urged the next generation of therapists to "create a new therapy for each [client]" (p. 34). What does this mean by this? Yalom goes on to explain that "therapists must convey to the [client] that their paramount task is to build a relationship that will itself become the agent of change," and that "above all, the therapist must be prepared to go wherever the [client] goes, [and] do all that is necessary to continue building trust and safety in the relationship."
Over the course of my eight years of experience as a therapist, clients have given me feedback about what they valued the most about our work together. Here are a few themes I've heard frequently:
Experiencing a genuine relationship with me in which they felt free to express their deepest, most vulnerable thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment;
Being able to openly reflect on the impact of the therapeutic relationship on them, which allowed them to also see ways in which our relationship echoed significant patterns that existed in other relationships in their lives;
Their ability to set the agenda of each session, based on what was most alive and relevant to them;
Feeling a consistent balance between empathic support and challenge to work with themes that were personally uncomfortable or unknown to them.