Therapeutic Relationship Process

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    • 00:01

      [MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 00:10

      MARTIN JORDAN: I'm Martin Jordan.I'm a psychotherapist, I'm a counseling psychologist,and I'm also a senior lecturer in counsellingand psychotherapy at the University of Brighton.And for the last five years, I'vebeen taking my therapeutic practice outinto outdoor natural spaces.In this tutorial, I'm going to talk about three central pointsin out door therapy and green space therapy.

    • 00:32

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: The first point I'm going to talk aboutis the therapeutic processes thatcome into play in an outdoor natural place, whichwork on three different levels.I'm going to talk about the therapeutic relationshipbetween the therapist, client, and nature,and then finally, I'm going to talk about someof the underpinning ideas that informour understanding of the therapeutic relationshipin an outdoor natural space, and that'sbetween therapist and between therapist, client, and nature.

    • 01:01

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: The first central process that comesinto place in why nature is therapeuticis the participative experience of being in nature.So I refer to that therapeutic process as participation.And what I mean by that is that simplyby being out in a natural space--So doing things like walking and camping,things that involve contact with the natural worldand participating within the natural worldhave a therapeutic value and have a therapeutic effect,and there's lots of research from environmental psychologyand other ideas that back that upthat nature has a fundamental normally positive effecton people's mental health and emotional well being.

    • 01:40

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And so those participative processes are quite important.So just simply by sitting with a client in a natural space,a bit like I'm sitting here, has an effecton a psychological and emotional leveland can promote well being.What we know about projection in psychotherapyis that an internal experience, and particularlyif there's a powerful internal emotional experience, thatwill be projected outwards onto objects and things.

    • 02:09

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: It links into ideas from object relations theoryand Melanie Klein.And so an emotional experience I'vehad as a child for example, I may thenproject onto other adults and other relationships.So for example, the idea that we choose partnersare the basis of some of these projections.So I might idealize somebody and choose my partneron the basis of an idealized projection.

    • 02:30

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So how that works in amount or natural spaceis that an inner process is mirroredin an outer environment.So when I encounter nature and I encountersymbols, and metaphors, and processesin nature, what happens is there'san interplay between an inner and outer process.And my projectile to an inner experienceand what's mirrored back to me from an outdoor natural spaceis a range of things, really, which I can use and understandmyself in a therapeutic process.

    • 02:57

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So an example of that might be that, for example,if I'm working by a coastline and I'm looking at the tidesas they come in and out, that natural process may mirrorsome reflection inside of me about a kindof internal process of emotions that come in and out.

    • 03:22

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And I suppose that links into the third aspectof therapeutic process, which is quiteimportant in a natural space is that the more existentialthe dimensions of life, so the issues of life, and death,and decay, and renewal, and rebirth are all very powerfullymirrored in a natural process.So in the moment, as you can see around us and behind me,we're in at the cusp of autumn, sonature's kind of going into a bit of a period of recession,really.

    • 03:47

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: It's produced lots of harvest and bounty,and of course that can be a powerful symbolic metaphorfor somebody in their life.And working with transitions around age and thingslike that, and working with issues around life, and death,and illness, and the psychological impact of those,we can see very powerful kind of metaphors and symbolsand what are existential processes in nature.

    • 04:10

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And of course, another really important aspectof the natural world for a lot of peopleis that they can connect on a spiritual level.And when I talk about spirituality,I mean that in very broad terms, really,that people can have some deeper sense of meaning and purpose.So the fact that nature continues to grow, and develop,and produce, and produce flowers independently of whatmight be going on inside of me, again,is quite a powerful metaphor of, I suppose,life and the processes of life that carry on, really,and that I may be able to use and connect with thatto help me at times of distress.

    • 04:44

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So I suppose those are three key therapeutic processesof participation, projection, and existential,spiritual, transpersonal process that happens in nature.My approach to developing a therapeutic relationshipwith clients is really, I suppose at foreground,empathy as being one of the central vehicles through whichI would develop a relationship.

    • 05:08

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And by empathy, I mean trying to attune to the person'semotional world, to try and understandthe perspective of where they're coming from,to try and, however fallible, locate myself in their shoesand try and see the world as they're seeing.And I suppose that isn't an easy task.And the way that I try and achieve that taskis through listening to people, and Isuppose what's termed in counseling and psychotherapy,active listening to people.

    • 05:35

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So I'm particularly listing for more emotionally resonantwords, and words that convey to mean understanding of quite where the client'sat in their own inner emotional world.I might also be looking for kind of nonverbal cues in their bodylanguage and in the way that they're sittingor the way that they're looking at me, whether they'remaintaining eye contact or not maintaining eye contact.

    • 05:57

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And I think overarching in the developmentof a good therapeutic relationshipis really helping the client develop a narrative, a storyabout what's brought them, about what the problems are.And a lot of time why people are coming to therapyis because they don't know why they feel depressed,or they don't know why they feel anxious,or they don't know why they're obsessing about something.And I think helping people develop a coherent storyabout that, and an understanding of what's going on, I think,is really important, really.

    • 06:28

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So what happens when you move outsideof A room environment is, of course,you're involving a third in the relationship,which is the natural world.And so not only do you have the client'stherapeutic relationship with nature,you also have the therapist's therapeutic relationshipwith nature, and where those spaces interact and meet.How the therapeutic relationship itself is affected by the moveoutdoors into the natural green space is--and Ronen Berger, who's written a lot about nature therapyhad talked about this-- that there'sa democratisation of the power relationshipsthat traditionally might go on in a roomenvironment in the therapeutic relationship.

    • 07:04

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So where the client enters into the therapist's space, whichis normally a room with two chairs, a box of tissues,and a clock, and is normally a space that'scontrolled by the therapist to a degree,the outdoor space is a much more democratic space.So nobody really owns it, in a way,and when therapists and client are sitting within itor they're moving within it, then bothare in a relationship to that natural space.

    • 07:27

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And that brings out positives and negativesin the therapeutic relationship.So it encourages and houses more mutuality between clientand therapist, but at the same time,it might serve to disrupt the normal processesof the therapeutic conversation.So where a client enters the roomand there's an expectation that they'regoing to have a particular sort of conversation--it's implicit.

    • 07:51

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: It's not explicit, but it's implicit by comingto see a counselor that you're going to be talking about howyou feel and distress-- in an outdoor natural space what I'vefound and what other therapists have foundis that that can shift a bit until you mightmove into a more chatty space.And so the challenge for the therapistis how to hold the therapeutic framearound particular conversations.

    • 08:14

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So maybe if you're moving into a more chatty relationshipwith the client, you're just having a walk in the woods,as it were, that the onus is on the therapistin the therapeutic relationship to kind of gentlysteer the conversation back towards the client's issuesand what's going on.So that mutuality both allows the clientto feel safe enough within the therapeutic relationship,potentially to access the therapistand feel that they also have nature as a spaceto mediate that process.

    • 08:39

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: It also means that the therapist still has a responsibilityto hold on to the therapeutic frame inside their head.The underpinning ideas and theoriesthat relate to what I've just talked about,particularly in relation to the therapeutic relationship,we can think about in relation to emotional intimacyand what goes on.So I'm going to make reference to ideas and theories thatdeal with childhood development.

    • 09:04

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: I'm thinking here in relation to ideas from psychoanalysisand psychodynamic ideas, but also ideasfrom contemporary neuroscience about howbabies develop an emotional brain.So one of the key ideas, I think,around emotional space and proximityunder therapeutic relationship is Winnicott's ideaof transitional space.So where baby and mother or caregivernegotiate and regulate each other in proximityto one another.

    • 09:31

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And Winnicott's ideas, what Winnicotttalked about in relation to transitional space,was the idea that the mother can become too impingingin that space.So she can invade the baby's space in an anxious way,too worried about how the baby is, and notallow the baby space to develop itself both in relationshipand both separate to, and also that the mother mightbe too distant in that relationship.

    • 09:56

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: That somehow, if mother or caregiver's a bit depressedor cut off, that they might be too distantand the baby can't access.So we're thinking about emotional proximity,and we're thinking about closeness and separateness.And what happens, I think, in workingin an outdoor natural space is, because this spaceis more benign the majority of the time,and yet you're still alive and vibrant,that the client who has a pre-existing relationshipwith nature and a developing relationship with naturecan use the natural space to help them regulatethe emotional proximity between the therapist.

    • 10:28

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So things like walking and talking with the clienthelp the client feel less imposed upon by the therapist,I think.And we can think about that in relationto a different kind of transitional spacethat worked in an outdoor natural environment.The other theories that apply to the therapeutic relationshipoutdoors are attachment theory.

    • 10:50

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So here we're thinking about peoplewho have had difficult early attachments,and again, have more complex notions of attachmentand separateness, and so have foundthat being in a relationship can cause anxietyand can cause a sense of uneasiness.

    • 11:14

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And so therefore, again, if someonehas a pre-existing attachment to the natural world, whichI think a lot of clients bringing with them when they'reworking outdoors, they've formed quite a secure attachmentto the natural world.So what they've done is, they've usedthe natural world in childhood and growing upas a space in which they can feel safe and secure.So if I have a complex relationship at home,I can go into a natural space and be in the fields,or be in the woods, or I can do stuff.

    • 11:39

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: I can go climbing or kayaking, and thatfeels less threatening and difficult for me.I can develop a relationship with this space.And therefore, they can use the naturalto help them relate to the therapist in a sense.So they can be out in the space and theyfeel more secure and safe to then startto begin to relate to the therapist.And, of course, sometimes that can get in the way.

    • 11:59

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So if I have a strong attachment to natureand I find human relationships quite difficult,it can sometimes get in the way ofthe therapeutic relationship.So I think that needs to be thought about.And the last theoretical idea, I think, that applies to thisis from contemporary neuroscience.So what we know about the stress responsesystem in the brain and the limbic systemis that early experiences as babies and growingup have a profound effect on brain developmentin the emotional brain.

    • 12:31

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: The stress response system needs to develop in an environmentwhere it's understood and helped to regulate by another stressresponse system and another emotional brain,normally the mother, father, or caregiver, whocan help the child regulate themselves.So if I'm experiencing a lot of distress as a baby,normally what the parent will do is come in and pick upand cuddle the baby, and try and understand its feelings.

    • 12:51

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And so there's a process whereby Ican learn to start to begin to regulate my emotions.Now, what I think is happening in the outdoors and linkto these ideas of touching and early experiencesof emotional intimacy is that peoplecan use the natural world to help them emotionallyregulate themselves.

    • 13:12

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: So what we know from a lot of environmental psychologyresearch is that health and well beingis increased in a natural space a lot of the time,and I think that links to these theoriesfrom neuroscience which talk about how nature helpsus affect regulate and how it helps us.And so nature's being used as another,again I suppose, emotional relationshipthat helps the person to negotiate and regulateother emotional relationships.

    • 13:37

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And I suppose as a therapist, what I can say about thisis, it's linked to my own history of using natureto help me emotionally regulate, and I find as a therapistthat I feel more relaxed out here.And I think that if we think about the therapists whoare dealing with a lot of trauma in the therapeuticrelationship, potentially the therapistbeing in a space that helps them emotionally regulate,the client being in a space that again may help them emotionallyregulate, is quite beneficial for the therapeuticrelationship, and, again, may help the clientfeel safe enough to access the therapist.

    • 14:09

      MARTIN JORDAN [continued]: And also, speaking up for therapists here,may support the therapist to survivethe emotional labor of the work that goes on.

Therapeutic Relationship Process

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Abstract

Martin Jordan, psychotherapist and counseling psychologist, explains the dynamics of bringing his therapeutic practice into outdoor natural spaces. In this tutorial, he explores the reasons nature is therapeutic and draws from disciplines such as neuroscience and early childhood development studies to narrate this premise. Jordan explores the therapeutic relationship between nature, therapist, and client, and the theoretical underpinnings that may influence these relationships.

SAGE Video Tutorials
Therapeutic Relationship Process

Martin Jordan, psychotherapist and counseling psychologist, explains the dynamics of bringing his therapeutic practice into outdoor natural spaces. In this tutorial, he explores the reasons nature is therapeutic and draws from disciplines such as neuroscience and early childhood development studies to narrate this premise. Jordan explores the therapeutic relationship between nature, therapist, and client, and the theoretical underpinnings that may influence these relationships.

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