I was recently asked to do an interview for an American relationships therapy website www.relationshipsarecomplicated.com. Here’s a transcript of the interview:
Relationship Are Complicated (RAC): How and/or why did you become a therapist?
Rachel Buchan (RB): I was interested in people. This began as aninterest in Theology and Anthropology but whittled down to an interest intherapy — In the personal and subjective experiences an individual has ratherthan looking at those experiences on a larger scale or a group level. As Ibegan to learn, I become very interested in the process of therapy, and the wayin which a skilled form of listening and a therapeutic relationship can bringabout change.
RAC: What are the most rewarding aspects of being a
RB: Watching an individual change.Without doubt. As a therapist, you are granted the permission to meet withsomeone often at their darkest times – at a point of crisis, chaos, pain,confusion. Over time you then become witness, in a very personal way, to thechange that begins to come about for that person if the individual is puttingthe work into the counselling.
RAC: What’s unique or special in your background or approachto interpersonal relationships?
RB: For me it’s the focus on the individual. This sounds obvious, but the modein which I work (integrative) means that my focus will be on that person, ontheir unique set of circumstances, experiences and personality, and what is thebest way to work with them.
This is very different to the
concept of ‘this my mode of therapy and you either fit in with it or not’.
Rather, integrative therapy encourages adapting your approach to the individual
in front of you.
This also places the emphasis on
the therapeutic relationship, which I think is best established by working this
RAC: What are your favourite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips/advice?
RB: This links to the abovequestion – I’m not a fan of tips / advice as my role as a counsellor is not togive out advice. Also, what will be a good ‘tip’ for one person will becompletely different to another, as their circumstances will not be the same.
RAC: What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?
RB: My goodness, so many things! The good newsis that now, in the UK, this is being done for me. There is a big drive aroundraising public awareness of mental health and caring for your mental health inthe same way you would your physical health. This awareness also focuses onchallenging the stigma that has traditionally surrounded mental health. So,there’s lots of fantastic campaigns happening and many people are opening upabout their own personal experiences of mental health, and the support theysought out.
RAC: What are some of the biggestmistakes a therapist or patient can make?
RB: Themost important thing about mistakes in therapy is that they’re discussed. Theonus for doing this I believe lies with the therapist who, if they think theymade a mistake in some way, is first able to take it to supervision fordiscussion and second, if appropriate, can check in on what happened with theclient; finding out how the client feels about it. The therapist is hopefullyalso able to be transparent with the client about what went wrong for them inthat moment.
Equally, if the client has said or done something “triggering” for the therapist, the onus lies with the therapist to discuss this in supervision – exploring why they have reacted the way that they did, and whether this is to do with therapist and should be kept with the therapist, or whether it is potentially something useful to take back to the client and into the therapy.
“Mistakes” or what I
would call “ruptures” in therapy are difficult, but if dealt with
rather than shied away from, are often a very rich part of the therapeutic