Charles J. Gelso, Ph.D., professor of counseling psychology at the University of Maryland, stressed the importance of what he calls the “real relationship,” or the personal bond that can develop between patient and psychotherapist, in a speech at a conference at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus on Saturday, Oct. 6.
In the keynote speech at the meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Society for Psychotherapy Research, Gelso highlighted one of his studies that showed a strong personal relationship between client and therapist bolstered the perceived progress of therapy and often correlated with how strong clients and therapists saw their working relationship. However, Gelso said that there has been little empirical research overall on the importance of the personal relationship in psychotherapy.
“While it usually operates silently, this personal relationship manifests itself in many ways and is part of everything that transpires between therapist and client,” said Gelso, who is the co-author of The Psychotherapy Relationship: Theory, Research, and Practice (Wiley, 1998), and editor of the journal Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, and Training.
The daylong meeting, held at the Lowenstein Center, featured workshops on new interventions as well as training and assessment in psychotherapy by more than 60 researchers from universities and hospitals in the mid-Atlantic states. It was sponsored by the Graduate School of Education and chaired by Jairo N. Fuertes, Ph.D., Magis Associate Professor of Education.