What Works in Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Psychoanalysis: Asymmetrical but Human and Humane Relatedness

While an ethical, effective, and professional counseling, psychotherapeutic, or psychoanalytic relationship has to be asymmetrical – the patient is paying for the practitioner’s professional expertise – both patient and psychoanalyst have much more in common than they do not: “everyone is much more simply human than otherwise.” People respond best in counseling, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis when they experience clinicians relating to them with “respect and dignity . . . mutuality and reciprocity . . . interpersonal fairness”, integrity, respectful vulnerability and genuineness (being real), an attitude of nonjudgmental inquiry, and a focus on strengths not just vulnerabilities. In short, patients respond best when encouraged and supported to change their inner narrative, get clearer about their competencies, learn to overcome shortcomings, and take the risk to assertively create the life they want to live on their own terms.