In my experience working with clients, I have to agree with certain research suggesting that specific therapeutic techniques or schools of therapy are considered effective for treatment of a broad range of mental health issues and disorders, improving upon general mental health and wellbeing. However, are certain schools of therapy alone adequate for client growth and change? As research studies show that therapeutic measures are effective, these measures account for a relatively small percentage of client outcomes, and it is the benefit of common factors such as the therapeutic relationship, that account for a higher percentage of counselling outcomes, such as positive client growth and change.
As research studies show that common factors (CF) across schools of therapy influence client growth and change, the main problems that arise are the specific common variables, their level of effectiveness and how sound the specific schools of therapy are in terms of client growth and change.
I have personally found, agreeing with results of studies, that skill development of building a relationship with the client can greatly help to improve positive counselling outcomes, which can also include skills of working with clients to better develop goals. Thus, the therapeutic relationship can be considered a highly important aspect of effective counselling outcomes, no matter which school of therapy is used. We may even consider the therapeutic relationship as the cornerstone of effective and positive counselling outcomes. Counsellors and therapists can learn to utilize the tools, such as treatment methods and approaches, through the therapeutic relationship.
Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for example, the importance of the therapeutic relationship is paramount for effective counselling outcomes. As part of the relationship building process, counsellors and therapists should be able to empathize with the client and to display a non-judgmental attitude, and view the client within a positive and unbiased regard. Thus we can see that the (CF) of the therapeutic relationship should be paramount within any school of therapy and that counsellors should develop ongoing skills of relationship building with clients.
I believe that counsellor training programs should include courses in skills of building relationships, and awareness of and understanding of the importance of building a relationship with the client. In my humble opinion, counsellors and therapists should be aware of the implications and importance of building a sound relationship with the client, not relying solely on schools of therapy, in order to achieve effective and positive counselling outcomes such as client growth and change.
Future studies could include research on the variables of the therapeutic relationship such as the importance of empathy to better understand empathy as a construct. I suggest further studies of other factors that can affect counselling outcomes, such as the history of mental and or physical abuse of the client, since this variable was shown to have significant levels of client outcomes. Future studies could also include the impact of factors outside of therapy and significant aspects of life, such as the effects of exercise on counselling outcomes. Yet despite this possible research, we may continue to come back to the therapeutic relationship as the backbone of sound and effective counselling outcomes.