Is the Therapeutic Relationship ‘Enough’? An Evidence-Informed Dialogue

A dialogue between Giancarlo Dimaggio and Mick Cooper, chaired by Emma Kay
CREST Seminar dialogue, 16th June 2021

In 1957, Carl Rogers hypothesised that a set of relational conditions were ‘necessary and sufficient’ for therapeutic personality change. But in the light of evidence emerging over the last six decades – including the recently conducted ETHOS and PRaCTISED trials of person-centred therapy – what can we say now about the role of the relationship? Are relational conditions enough to bring about in-depth and enduring development and healing, or is ‘more’ needed (e.g., structure, techniques, interpretation) to bring about positive and enduring change? Giancarlo Dimaggio and Mick Cooper, two experienced clinicians, trainers, and psychotherapy researchers, explore this question in the light of the emerging evidence.

The seminar begins with brief presentations from Giancarlo and Mick. Giancarlo’s position — that the relationship is necessary but not sufficient — is then further explored with Mick. The final part of the dialogue involves conversation, contribution, and discussion with attendees.

Giancarlo Dimaggio is a Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist who lives in Rome, where he works in the Centre for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy. He has published more than 200 papers and book chapters in English. He has co-authored many books, including Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy: Body, Imagery and Change (Routledge), Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy for Personality Disorders (Routledge) and co-edited Integrated Treatment for Personality Disorders (Guilford). He is editor in chief for the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In-Session, senior associate editor for the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration and associate editor for Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice. Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy (MIT) has received empirical support in Italy, Australia, Spain, and Denmark and is applied in Norway and Portugal.

Mick Cooper is Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Roehampton and a practising psychologist and psychotherapist. Mick is a relational therapist, trained in person-centred and existential approaches, but working from a pluralistic standpoint. Mick is co-editor of The Handbook of Person-centred Psychotherapy and Counselling (Palgrave, 2013) and co-author of Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy (Sage, 2018). Mick’s research has focused on relational and dialogical approaches and issues, including shared decision making in psychotherapy, the effectiveness of person-centred therapy for young people (ETHOS), and working with client preference.

Emma Kay is a Lecturer at the University of Roehampton.


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