Trust and Power in the Therapeutic Relationship

by Sherry Katz Monday, May 16, 2011


The relationship which you and your therapist develop as you talk about the stresses, disappointments, frustrations of your inner life is itself a tool for life learning. 

Besides the content of your session talks, the way in which you and your therapist interact is one important way for you to see yourself handle two of the main factors of any relationship. 

The first relationship factor is trust. 

The second relationship factor is power. 

Think about how in all relationships we are in a continual shuffling, trying to find balanced ground of whether we can trust someone. 

  • To what degree is the person with whom I would like a relationship trustworthy? 
  • What can I safely talk about with this person? 
  • How will I know within myself that I am in a place of where I can give my trust? 

Therapy is a professional service by highly trained, licensed professionals who are required to continue their education. Their job is to create a safe, uncritical, humanistic care environment just for you, the patient. 

Therapists are trained to keep their personal ways of interacting out of the relationship with you. The therapeutic relationship protects what you talk about; all sorts of laws and ethical codes exist to ensure this. 

You are safe to use the therapy space as the playground and sanctuary it is. Allow yourself new modalities and methods of recognizing and sustaining trust in a relationship. 

Similarly, in therapy you will have lots of opportunity for seeing the way you respond and utilize power, both your own and in response to the authority of the therapist. 

  • Do you believe close to every word the therapist tells you? 
  • Are you willing to ask questions of the therapist? 
  • Are there times you feel afraid of directly stating your thoughts? 

These are a few of the key areas of a relationship in which the patient's personal power is stuck. The further you can bring yourself to releasing from what traps your power inside, the better you will be able to do your share in building healthy relationships with others. 

Remember, because the therapeutic relationship is in service to your interest, growth, healing and development, you can expect to feel safe in trying new ways of doing your part in a relationship. 

Sherry Katz LCSW


Sherry Katz, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who received her MSW degree in 1981. She completed her advanced clinical training in family therapy at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. She specializes in systems/relational work with individuals, couples and families. The focus of her work is supporting each client toward finding their hidden strengths and applying these newly discovered views for good growth and balance. Ms. Katz opened her Ridgewood, NJ practice in 2000. Her website is


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