What is relational depth?

“A feeling of profound contact and engagement with a client, in which one simultaneously experiences high and consistent levels of empathy and acceptance towards that other, and relates to them in a highly transparent way. In this relationship, the client is experienced as acknowledging one’s empathy, acceptance and congruence – either implicitly or explicitly – and is experienced as fully congruent in that moment” David Mearns.

How is this achieved?

  • Let go of aims and “lusts” Focus on the client in the here and now, not our goals for them.
  • Be aware of your aims, rather than denying them, then let set them aside.
  • Let go of “anticipations. Theory is theory, the client is not a set of theories to be understood.
  • Let go of Techniques, it focuses on us rather than the client.
  • Give the client space and time to express. “Holistic listening”
  • Knock on the door. Do not be afraid to ask things of the client
  • Mulitdirectional Partiality. Complicated way of saying be aware of and use configurations of self.
  • An openness to admitting how you are affected by the client.
  • Create a safe (physical, emotional and mental) space. This does not mean protecting the client however.
  • Congruence/self awareness and a willingness to display this to the client.
  • Transparency, being willing to communicate our here and now to the client.

This is a very simplified, and brief summary of a large body of work, it is a beginning, not a how to.




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