Innovation within tradition
Abstract: The objective of this study was to compare practitioners’ perspectives of the therapeutic relationship established face to face and online in order to add a broader understanding of the therapeutic relationship and whether a new context did highlight new aspects of therapy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine psychotherapists in Greece: five of them worked face to face and four online. The practitioners from both groups refer to the nature of the relationship in the context in which they work. The analysis was made with the help of a power and human ecology perspective. The main findings show that the establishment of the relationship online requires a bigger effort from the practitioners in comparison to face to face interaction. The online context leads the practitioner to control various aspects of the therapy process in order to provide a safe therapeutic context for the client which will enable trust to grow. In addition, the relationship was found to be affected by the context alterations occurring over the internet. The conclusion is that a therapeutic relationship can be established online but it does differ from the traditional one developed face to face. The practitioners from the online group expressed their concerns whether the core elements of the therapeutic relationship can exist in that contemporary context. The result is also the insight that studying a practice in a new context highlights new aspects. Since it was seen as a problem to control the relationship in online therapy, it also became clear that power in the relationship is of very high importance.
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