Relational depth in counselling is a concept that describes the deep connection and engagement between counsellor and client. It can refer to specific moments or an ongoing relationship of profound contact. Relational depth can help clients to explore their core issues and aid in the development of self-awareness.
It involves high amounts of empathy from the counsellor to the client, unconditional positive regard, openness and honesty and a genuine desire to listen to the client’s story with warmth and kindness.
Relational depth was first developed through the work of Mearns and Cooper Research undertaken, notably by Cooper, Knox, McMillan, McLeod, and Wiggins indicates that relational depth has enabled clients to feel a more authentic connection to themselves and to others around them. Clients often describe ‘pivotal moments’ within the therapeutic relationship occurring as a result of relational depth, which empowers and enables therapeutic growth and change .
Personal development for counsellors is essential for relational depth to occur. It helps a counsellor to begin understanding their own self and how they see the world. It helps the counsellor to view from other’s perspective and helps them to understand their own biases and judgements. It helps them to heal from their own traumas, thus developing empathy for others in their own life events and ultimately understanding things from the clients frame of reference.