Relational Therapy

Relational therapy is a therapeutic approach that was founded on the belief that a person must have fulfilling and satisfying relationships with the people around them in order to be emotionally healthy. Relational therapy handles emotional and psychological distress by looking at the client’s patterns of behavior and experiences in interpersonal relationships, taking social factors, such as race, class, culture, and gender, into account. Relational therapy can be useful in the treatment of many issues, but is especially successful when working with individuals seeking to address long-term emotional distress, particularly when that distress related to relationships. Relational therapy will help clients learn skills to create and maintain healthy relationships. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s relational therapy experts today.

Meet the specialists

I believe that we heal through connection, and that the relationship between my clients and I is an opportunity to explore new ways of connecting. Challenges that can come up in interpersonal dynamics are likely to come up in our professional relationship as well, so we have the opportunity to work through those challenges together.

— Maya Grodman, Counselor in Portland, OR
 

I help people understand the dynamics of interpersonal relationships with others. Therapy is a microcosm and direct reflection of your life in which many of your behavior patterns and attitudes will emerge. Instead of allowing them to cause dysfunction in your life, in the context of therapy, you will feel the safety where you can take a genuine look at your struggles, and we can then work together to examine those patterns and explore constructive alternatives to replace them.

— KIN LEUNG, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Burlingame, CA

The relationship you have with your psychotherapist is often indicative of how you relate outside of the therapy office. Similar patterns and projections arise -- we use the therapeutic relationship as a way of exploring your core needs and past traumas, and ultimately as a form of healing.

— Jeffrey Kishner, Mental Health Counselor in New York, NY

Just as the patterns that hold you back were wired within your earliest relationships, they only transform when met with gentleness and care. Understanding the neuroscience of relationship can help you understand and transform your challenges.

— Marc Otto, Creative Art Therapist in Portland, OR
 

I chose a relationship and family therapy focus in my studies, and understand most healing occurs in relationships. We internalize others' messages, beliefs, and build our inner world based on interactions. Sometimes our inner world or the way we interact needs to be restructured for us to develop fully or live in a way that feels healthy and satisfying. The therapy relationship can be an effective place to work on making changes.

— Leah Gregory, Counselor in Portland, OR
 

A relational approach to therapy means that I will operate as an active participant in your therapy. The foundation of this work is the relationship between you and I and the dynamics that manifest during our sessions as they illuminate and relate to your other relationships. I often use the immediacy of the therapeutic relationship with the goal of increasing awareness and discovering previously hidden processes and beliefs that undermine well-being.

— Matthew Beeble, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA

A relational approach to therapy means that I will operate as an active participant in your therapy. The foundation of this work is the relationship between you and I and the dynamics that manifest during our sessions as they illuminate and relate to your other relationships. I often use the immediacy of the therapeutic relationship with the goal of increasing awareness and discovering previously hidden processes and beliefs that undermine well-being.

— Matthew Beeble, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA
 

Relational Therapy is truly a unique approach to couples counseling. Couples comment on how different these sessions are compared to their other couples therapy experiences and how much they appreciate it! This therapy is direct, coaching and empowering to help couples make changes to have a strong, happy and healthy relationship. It also moves quickly! I've seen couples who have been angry for years start to love and laugh again after just a few sessions!

— Corrin Voeller, Marriage & Family Therapist in St. Louis Park, MN

As humans, we need and exist in relationships; to others, to the environment, to ourselves. I believe that one of the most important aspects of my work with clients is developing a strong relationship based around safety and expression and use these experiences in therapy to help people understand the ways in which they relate to other aspects of their lives.

— Cayla Panitz, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR
 

There are 2 big pieces to relational (cultural) therapy for me. 1. I believe that everything is embedded in culture and that everything exists in relationship. I work to be humble, sensitive, and attuned to you and the broader context surrounding you. I work to focus on your relationships, your beliefs about relationships, and how you have survived and maintained relationships to support you in your therapeutic goals. 2. Therapeutic growth happens in the context of a genuine and authentic relationship that we build together. To do that, I let my personality into the room. What does that look like? Well, I am soft, warm, and deeply empathetic. I’m generally expressive and can get pretty excited. I’m goofy and often laugh at the absurdity of our world. I am not shy about the impact on my politics on my work. And I swear. If that sounds like a good fit for you, let’s talk!

— Colette Gordon, Counselor in Portland, OR

When it comes to long-term, sustainable change, therapy is one of the most effective forms of treatment. In part, because you no longer have to navigate the darkness alone. The therapy relationship is one of the most important factors for change. Yes, even more than specific modalities at times and there is ample evidence to support this. As humans, we have evolved to withstand life’s inherent traumas through interdependency. Not codependency. Interdependency. We thrive, as humans, when we can rely on and support others. And we learn how to support ourselves and others through the kind of support we’ve received. In an ideal world we would feel all our feelings and let those feelings guide us in a regulated and attuned manner. This is what healthy functioning looks like (despite cultural norms around emotions). However, we get stuck when we are left alone with unbearable emotions. This can lead to mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and the like. When left alone with unbearable emotions, we adapt in ways that may serve us in the moment, but may not be the best in the long run. For example, we may avoid feelings altogether, pick fights with our partners, become a workaholic, turn toward alcohol or other substances, etc. You get the picture. In therapy, we create a relationship (a unique one at that!) to help you bring those feelings up to be safely experienced and now responded to in the way(s) you needed before. With compassion, empathy, sincere belief, and support. This is how we release the past and free ourselves from having to “manage” all the freaking time.

— Natalia Amari, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX
 

Relational psychotherapy is an approach that can help you recognize the role relationships play in the shaping of daily experiences. It will help you understand patterns appearing in your thoughts and feelings you have toward yourself. You and I will work together to forge a strong, collaborative, and secure relationship that can serve as a model for future relationships you wish to develop.

— Colleen Burke-Sivers, Counselor in Portland, OR

Relational therapy, sometimes referred to as relational-cultural therapy, is a therapeutic approach based on the idea that mutually satisfying relationships with others are necessary for one’s emotional well-being. This type of psychotherapy takes into account social factors, such as race, class, culture, and gender, and examines the power struggles and other issues that develop as a result of these factors, as well as how they relate to the relationships in a person’s life.

— Gwen Kinney, Counselor in Austin, TX
 

Relationships are potent places for us to repeat old, painful patterns or break free and create newer, healthier ways of interacting. Many of us have been hurt in relationships (family, friends, colleagues, romantic partners, etc). In therapy, the unique relationship we create together can help heal the residual wounds. It can also provide an update for what it feels like to show up as our authentic selves and be listened to, cared for, and respected, so we can take this new experience out into the world to create and sustain meaningful connections that feel aligned for us.

— Jessica Weikers, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

I am an interactive therapist. We use our relationship to heal so that you may thrive.

— Janet Zinn, Clinical Social Worker in New York, NY
 

Relational therapy is founded in the belief that healing happens in the context of relationships with one another. This approach to treatment is based in strengths-based empowerment. Exploring your wants and needs in the relationships around you, as well as your relationships with yourself. Increasing connection with yourself and others can be profoundly transformative.

— Kian Leggett, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Tacoma, WA