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Relational Depth - What Is It?

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.

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