Relational Therapy

Attunement to Connection

Relational Therapy: Real World Attunement in Action

From our Colorado Team Leader, Jeannie Morrison, LPC

“It’s not uncommon for my teen clients to begin session with resistance and being withdrawn.  I am frequently picking them up for session from home or school.  They may be holding emotions from conflict at home or a hard day at school.   I notice their “shutdown” as low mood, low motivation, minimal conversation and often with edge, and often extra fidgety.  I honor this and keep interactions light and minimal.  Being in Colorado, one of my favorite things to do is go on hikes with my clients.   As we get on the trail, even when they are resistant, clients start moving alongside me and bit by bit I see their shutdown dissipate.  They loosen their movement, smile and laugh a little more, and begin sharing more authentically about what is going on for them.  They deepen their personal exploration of thoughts and feelings and engage with me more.   There seems to be alignment in our movement and energy.   This shutdown dissipation tends to happen quicker the longer I work with a client and trust and safety are built up, but honestly, I’m happy with whatever pace they bring.  Attunement is about not having an agenda and building from where my client is able to connect.  That’s why I love the work I do with Wonder because it gives my teen clients a chance to connect in a safe way and that’s where healing begins.”

Behavioral vs Relational Therapy: What's the difference?

Behavioral therapy and relational therapy are two distinct approaches within the field of psychotherapy, each offering unique perspectives on understanding and treating psychological issues. Behavioral therapy, rooted in behaviorism, focuses on observable and measurable behaviors. The primary goal is to identify and modify maladaptive behaviors through a systematic and goal-oriented approach. Behavioral therapy is often time-limited and solution-focused, concentrating on changing specific behaviors rather than exploring deep-rooted emotions or relational patterns.

Relational therapy, on the other hand, emphasizes the significance of interpersonal relationships and their impact on psychological well-being. Rooted in psychodynamic and humanistic traditions, relational therapy focuses on the dynamics between individuals and their social context. Relational therapists explore the client’s current and past relationships, aiming to understand patterns, conflicts, and the impact of relational dynamics on the individual’s mental health. The therapeutic relationship is a central component of relational therapy. Trust, empathy, and collaboration between the therapist and client are crucial for fostering positive change. Relational therapy often involves a more in-depth exploration of emotions, past experiences, and the influence of significant relationships on the client’s self-concept and worldview.

Because, at Wonder, we utilize a relational approach, we track progress by how teen clients engage with authentic relationships with parents, teachers, and peers. Many of our clients have struggled with “behavior” throughout their lives and it has been the source of conflict and distress. We aim to address behavioral struggles through the relational connection. As our clients feel heard, understood, and safe in relationship, behavior begins to shift naturally. We aim to help parents feel the same especially in connection with their struggling child.

From our clients