The Chemistry Connection in the Therapeutic Relationship

by Lynn R. Zakeri Friday, November 12, 2010

Lynn ZakeriLynn R. Zakeri is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Northfield and Skokie, Illinois. For more information view Lynn's website at

It is that old-fashioned phrase “have chemistry”, and scientific or not, you’ve got to have it with your therapist.  .  Whether you are looking for a listener or a problem solver, a sense of kindness or a motivator, you still need that chemistry. 

How do you meet people is a question that is often asked, but really, what we are asking is how do we meet people we like, connect with, enjoy, and feel good around.  We talk to many people throughout our day, whether it is at our morning coffee shop, on a school playground, at the office, but who would you like to spend your free time with?  Who makes you laugh or brings out your funny-side?  Who do you have chemistry with?

Literally, chemistry is the study of how matter interacts.  When we talk about chemistry with another person, we commonly refer to the love/attraction type of chemistry, but really just interacting positively is a general type of chemistry that we all strive to reach with others.  This type of interaction is so powerful, that it not only puts you in a good mood, but some research has shown that by releasing a certain chemical, phenylethylamine (PEA), this type of chemistry with another person may even make you happy and possibly resist depressive feelings.

Adolescents often say the now-cool word “aaaawkward” when describing certain encounters, but in truth, so many encounters are!  A hint of sarcasm that was taken seriously; a lag in conversation where you say something you regret just to fill the silence; or you’ve exposed too much and experience the “TMI brush-off” (too much information).

But when it’s good, it’s good.  Time flies, you don’t remember why but you know you laughed… hard.  And you are comfortable.  You are validated.  You are valued and never judged.  Similar to finding the right therapist.  The therapeutic relationship too requires chemistry.  And when it’s good, it’s good.



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