What Does It Mean to Be Relational? | Naming Our Counseling Practice
Austin Relational Wellness
We chose to include the word relational in the name of our practice because it’s the cornerstone of the work we do. But what does it mean to be relational? How do you know if you’re relationally well?
1. concerning the way in which two or more people or things are connected
What it means to be relational
Being relational means acknowledging the interconnectedness of human nature and the important role that relationships play in our lives. We believe that humans are meant to connect with others on an interpersonal and emotional level and that strong, fulfilling relationships help people maintain emotional well-being.
It can be a challenge, as American culture pushes individuality and self-reliance. While individuality is important, it’s also important for people to have healthy connections and relationships. In our culture, this can often be overlooked.
Being relational is all about connection and how we relate to others in relationship. When we speak of being relational or in relationships, it’s oftentimes assumed that we mean romantic partnerships, but this is not the case. Being relational isn’t limited to the more intimate relationships in our lives, like romantic partners, family, children and friends, but all of humankind. It’s recognizing our interconnected nature and our relationships with ourselves, others or a higher power.
It’s important to make self-exploration and self-improvement a priority because it impacts, not only your own life, but also the people you interact with. Through self-awareness, we learn to understand ourselves better, understand other people better, and in turn, our relationships improve. We can ask… “Who are we? Why do we act the way we do? How are we in the world? How can we understand ourselves and others better so our relationships can improve?”
A relational approach to counseling
In our therapy practice, being relational is considering a client in relation to the people in their life. A relational approach to counseling means exploring client relationship patterns, both inside and outside of the therapy room. We don’t exist in a vacuum. As counselors, we seek to understand the entire system or world of a client throughout the therapy process.
We believe that we’re all heavily influenced by past experiences and hurts, which can cause us to disconnect. In fact, when someone is coming to therapy, the issue often has something to do with strains in relationships or even a lack of relationships. We look at these past experiences and relational patterns to understand how they shape how we act.
When it comes to counseling couples, a relational approach seems more obvious. With couples, we work directly with the relationship in the room. We’re passionate about helping couples improve their most intimate relationships and achieve “relational wellness” in their romantic partnerships.
We also place high importance on the relationship between the client and therapist. What happens between the therapist and client is an important part of the process. Remember how we said, “strong, fulfilling relationships help people maintain emotional well-being?” The same applies to the client-counselor relationship. Good therapy requires a solid relationship in the therapy room.
What it means to be relationally well
Knowing what you need
Being able to verbalize what you need
Compassion toward others
Learning how to interact with others
Self-awareness in relationships
Addressing conflict or hurt that comes up