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Clarkson’s 5 Relationship Model of Counselling Relationships


Humanistic Integrative Counselling employs a number of tools to enhance the quality of the therapeutic connection between client and counselor. An integrative counsellor realizes that he cannot use the same counselling techniques on every client, as each client is a unique individual and has individual emotional needs.

It is necessary for an integrative counselor to work with a model that helps define the nature of the association that they are to build with their client. One such model is known as Clarkson’s 5 Relationship model. In this model, Petruska Clarkson has put forward five counselling relationships that if used correctly, will strengthen the client-therapist bond, allowing it to help in the healing process of therapy. They are as follows:

1. The Working Alliance pertains to the contract that is initially drawn up and agreed upon between the counselor and client. It includes terms and conditions regarding the payment terms agreed upon, the frequency of therapy sessions, the purpose and goals of therapy and the extent of confidentiality.

2. The Transferential Relationship exists between a client and a therapist when either of them associate the other with somebody else; e.g. a parent, a friend, sibling, relative, an old romantic interest, etc. and feel as though they are speaking to or listening to that individual. Such a rapport at times can be beneficial for the client if it helps them in the healing process. The therapist has to however maintain the professionalism required of the client-therapist relation as the therapist cannot just literally take up the role of, let’s say, a parent or spouse in the clients life.

3. The Reparative Relationship is one in which the client feels an emotionally nurturing bond between himself and his therapist. When the client-therapist bond is such that a client feels safe and cared for with the therapist; and when the association gives comfort and healing to the client it could also be called a re-parenting relationship as it helps heal and repair emotional deficiencies and traumas caused during childhood.

4. The “Real” or “Person-to-Person”Relationship is when the client-therapist relationship becomes so strong that the client does not have any inhibitions of disclosing his true feelings and thoughts before the therapist. Basically, in our day to day lives we are used to wearing a façade so as to be the kind of person that people and society would approve of and accept. In order to heal, it is necessary that one does away with such masks of unrealism and that the client feels confident and secure enough to reveal his real personality and thoughts.

5. The Transpersonal Relationship is related to spirituality, faith, life values and meaning. This kind of bonding is said to exist when there is a spiritual or psychic sort of exchange between the therapist and client. It’s about moments when things suddenly click, or there is a magical kind of coincidence, sometimes a moment of truth, understanding and realization. This kind of bonding is slightly complicated as there could be times when it could be experienced by only one of the two; client or therapist but not by the other.