Long-time SPS member Peter Zelles, PhD, LP, ABPP, stated it well when he wrote:
There is a broad array of intervention we use in psychotherapy to help people – emotional expression & insight, changing the way people think about themselves, using exposure to manage fears, directly teaching coping techniques, etc – and I have come to believe it is the relationship we have with patients which is the other (perhaps the most) critical ingredient of getting better.
Like the good mechanic who listens to what we tell them, but also takes the car out for a spin to see firsthand what the problem is... or the physician who takes our telling of symptoms seriously, but also puts their hands on us to feel what is happening for themselves... the psychotherapist makes a relationship with us and feels some of what it is to be us.
Through first-hand experience, they come to know the intensity, process, meaning, and sources of our suffering. They make observations that bring into focus for us how events formed us, and how we, ourselves, are making the suffering continue; they lead us to another way to be in our world.
We feel things differently, grow up, expand our understanding, take real responsibility, and move on from the pain.
“I don’t know what I think