The Relational Approach
Joanna trained at UWE in a model of counselling called the Relational approach. What this means is that she views the relationships we have with each other and ourselves as highly important, and that early life experiences can impact on our relating in the present day. We don't always remember these early life experiences, in fact the first 12 months of life is when our brains are developing at the fastest rate and we learn how to interact with others in order to survive. What kind of environment we are in during those early years is really crucial to our development of good self image and wellbeing later on in life. This is known as 'attachment'. Sometimes care givers are unable to give consistent enough care, possibly because they had similar experiences, or maybe due to illness or hardship. Joanna's preferred approach is to build trust over a period of time, allowing the therapeutic relationship to become a safe base for the client to explore emotions and behaviour that are causing an issue for them. The therapist's aim is to become a consistent and safe figure for emotions, thoughts, wishes, fears and so on to be transferred onto, before being understood in context. The therapist must build trust and maintain a non judgemental and non defensive stance to allow the client to feel safe, before bringing unconscious thoughts, emotions and behaviours into the clients awareness. The length of time this takes is individual for each client and cannot always be predicted, but 24 sessions would be a good starting point to work from.