How Therapy Works: Connection

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Connection is a concept put forth by Dr. Richard Geist. It is the idea that when a person feels connected with it allows them to feel more real, whole and alive and that over time this causes positive emotional growth and change. Connection has three parts:

1. Empathy: when the therapist puts themselves in the patients shoes consistently over the course of a treatment they allow the patient to feel deeply understood especially in moments and parts of themselves where they normal don't feel understood (e.g. like in conflict). This allows the patient to slowly connect to their unconscious thoughts and desires and reveal to themselves and their therapist.

2. Unmet needs being noticed and responded to: over time as unconscious feelings/desires/needs are noticed, validated and responded to parts of the personality that are stuck emotionally become unstuck and begin to grow again.

3. Authenticity: Even though the therapist is striving to respond from within the patient's world they are still trying to do so authentically. How they respond, the words they use, how they communicate all display the therapist's personal subjectivity. This is important because it allows for an authentic relationship to build. So that even though the relationship is focused on the patient, the patient still comes to know the therapist at some level; making it a real human relationship.

When connection happens in therapy it usually means that the patient feels the therapist has become a part of them and to some extent visa versa the therapist feels the patient has become a part of them. When this happens the patient is able to utilize the therapy past the 50 minute session. They take it with them and increasingly are able to grow from it. 

This happens slowly over time but is also the avenue for real and lasting change. For more about the psychoanalytic and attachment therapeutic process see the other How Therapy Works blog posts.