The therapeutic relationship. This is the degree to which the therapist and the client feel aligned with each other in working toward a mutual goal.
The therapist. Some therapists are consistently more effective than others. Few researchers seem willing to study the differences between the really good therapists and the really bad ones, but the degree to which a practitioner adheres to a particular treatment protocol does not appear to contribute.Learn more about us at Therapist Association
In this article, I’m going to draw those two factors together into a third, connecting factor, which I believe constitutes the primary basis for effective psychotherapy. Jerome Frank, the pioneer of the Common Factors approach to psychotherapy, referred to this connecting principle as persuasion.
I’ve had some arguments with other therapists in the past who disagree with the explicit use of persuasive tactics in psychotherapy, because they feel that therapy should be an egalitarian enterprise — the client should be given the full freedom of choice regarding how to respond to treatment.
My argument is that people often come to therapy specifically because they want to believe something that they have not been able to make themselves believe. They want to be convinced that life is worth living, or that the world is ultimately more fun than it is scary, or that they have more options available to them than they feel like they do.
But there is more to psychotherapy than this type of direct persuasion. For me, psychotherapy is about the reasons why people are not able to believe those things. It is about the belief systems which prevent them from accessing those possibilities. And so the task of psychotherapy is to help someone accept a new belief system. It doesn’t really matter which belief system they accept, so long as it is wide enough and deep enough to accommodate the types of experiences they were missing before. That’s why all theories of psychotherapy yield similar results — they are all myths about the way the human mind works.