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psychotherapist, counsellor, relational depth
Mick Cooper

After attending a training seminar held by Psychotherapist and Counsellor Mick Cooper, I decided to look further into his idea of relational depth, and what it means to both therapist and client. Cooper’s exploration offers insight into the power of a relational connection between people, looking at how and when client and therapist may experience relational depth.

Relational depth can be described as “a state of profound contact and engagement between people”. That statement may seem a little vague and, perhaps, so vast that it could incorporate a multitude of feelings between two people. However, you could see the simplicity and endless complexity of this statement as a metaphor for counselling and human relationships. Being human is, at times, beyond words. Simple interactions are surrounded by complex feelings and emotions.

This idea of relational depth has been described as magical and intense - a deep, connected feeling between client and therapist, where the client can feel that they are completely understood by the therapist, as they are there together, as two subjects connected within the clients world. Within this relationship clients may feel closer to themselves and find an awareness that allows them to forge more meaningful relationships in their own lives, having experienced relational depth in the safety of a counselling session.

psychotherapist, counselling, therapy, counsellor
Carl Rogers

Relational depth can be thought of as a moment where Carl Rogers' three core conditions of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard all work together as one - comparable to elements of the Person-Centered model. A way of being, as opposed to individual methods a therapist can draw upon, which can open the door to relational depth within the therapeutic space. Carl Rogers himself mentions that relationships with high degrees of empathy and regard, without conditions, have a good chance of becoming effective therapeutic relationships.


I believe that there are great joys to be had in expressing yourself absolutely to another human being. Some of our most meaningful relationships are those in which we feel understood and accepted by another, with no fear of judgement. Perhaps this is a moment of relational depth that we can all experience, even outside the therapy room.

Updated: May 7

After recently attending Anxiety and ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention ) training, which looked at using ERP to help clients who struggle with general anxiety, panic, OCD, social anxiety and phobias, I delved into the origins of this type of therapy.

ERP looks at our thoughts and behaviours when experiencing anxiety, and takes a lot of it's elements from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These therapies say that we can question our thoughts, challenge them and look for the evidence of negative thoughts, but we can also choose to face and accept that our thoughts and feelings are there - giving them less power.

This mindful-like behaviour is something that was spoken about back in 1991 when Dr Claire Weekes, an Australian GP and mental health writer, published her book Hope and Help for your Nerves.

psychotherapist, counsellor, counselling, therapy
Dr Claire Weekes

Although by today's standards the book is a little brash and clinical in it's presentation and placement of the 'sufferer', so much of it holds true for many of today's therapies. Mindfulness, a seemingly new idea, speaks of not hiding away or fighting our feelings and thoughts, but in fact, accepting that they are there. This is a large part of Weekes' method. We all experience difficult thoughts and feelings, but we can let these pass and know that they will always pass.

Weekes talks of four simple steps, which seems to be the basis for her model:

Face Accept Float Let Time Pass

Face: Can we face our thoughts and feelings during times of distress? However uncomfortable it might be, can we not run away from them?

Accept: Can we accept our anxiety - can we stop resisting and fighting it?

psychotherapy, book, self-help, anxiety, anxious, nervous
Hope And Help For Your Nerves

Float: Fear of our own anxiety is often larger than the actual thing that made us anxious in the first place. Can we see this fear and face it, accept it, and float past it anyway? There is peace in not fighting it.

Time: Time is important - there are no shortcuts when dealing with anxiety - learning to accept this is a part of the process.

Here is one quote that stuck with me from this book, which I think defines Weekes' view quite well:

"When the mind rests with relief from fear, decisions will be more easily made"

Our mind can rest when we accept ourselves, truly as we are. This is a part of all counselling and therapy, and for some clients, may be a pivotal moment in lessening their suffering.

When we give fear less power, it is powerless.

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