The need of individualism in therapy

Bob Goulding says there are four points at which therapy should be stopped
1. At the contracted time
2. At the point of victory, no matter how much time remains in the session.
3. At a solidly stuck place in an inflexible impasse to allow the client to feel the impact of the impasse.
4. Within thirty minutes in order to keep therapy crisp, fruitful and fun.

The Gouldings mainly did pieces of work that lasted about 30 minutes. Over the years I have integrated this into my work in an hour session. At the same time I also work within the therapeutic relationship and hence would see myself as doing a type of relational TA therapy. An example of how a session would progress:

1. 15 minutes Relational TA
2. 30 minutes Redecision work
3. 15 minutes Relational TA

I find the two complement each other quite nicely. The appealing part about the redecision work as described above is it is discrete. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It has a crisp, clear feel about it. Relationship based therapies like Relational TA do not have that. Having redecision work involved in the sessions also allows one to get away from the intensity of relationship based therapeutic work. Working within the transference is emotionally draining for both therapist and client. It is an intense way to do therapy.


In the last few decades there has been a move to relationship based psychotherapies such as relational TA. It’s all about the therapeutic relationship and connection. And there is a good reason for this, as there is considerable curative powers to be found in the therapeutic relationship for the client.

However as always seems to be the case, there is a down side to it as well. Therapies which focus on the relationship, then it all becomes about “Us”. The “I” gets lost. In relationship based therapies the individual is lost. It is not about ‘I’ it is about ‘Us’. Indeed in the co creation type of approaches the individual disappears. In psychotherapy, individualism has significantly diminished in recent years.

Redecision therapy and the Gouldings were all about the individual. Indeed their book was titled, “The power is in the patient”. One could argue they placed too much emphasis on individualism. The nice part about individualism is it is clear. “I am me and you are you”. This has a good feel to it because the boundaries are clear. In relationships and relationship based therapy the lines between people can get blurry. It’s always about “Us”, how we connect and impact each other and co create what ever exists. In the intersubjective space boundaries are blurry between the two parties.

Of course this is going to end sooner or later and there will be another shift in psychotherapy away from focus on the relationship between therapist and client. One can only hypothesise what post relational therapies will be like.


The cry for a sense of individualism (but it’s in a group!).



However the point at hand is, as a therapist I have the need at times for a rise of individualism in therapy. A clarity of boundaries in the space between therapist and client. To forget about the “Us” for a while and focus on the “I” for a while. This need of mine it seems is significant as I have unconsciously produced this with my combination of redecision and relational TA approaches.

The relational work allows for a sense of “Us” and the positive effects that brings. The redecision work brings a sense of more clarity to the work with a discrete beginning and end and also to the two participants involved here (therapist and client). It allows them to experience a sense of “I” in the therapy.

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