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Relating in psychotherapy

Cartoon by Igor Valkov

This is the title of my book that was first published (by Praeger) in hardback in 1999 and published (by Brunner-Routledge) in paperback in May 2002. The object of the book is to apply relating theory (see section on Relating Theory ) to what goes on in psychotherapy. Chapters describing relating theory alternate with chapters describing how the theory can be applied to the relating of both different kinds of psychotherapist and different kinds of client. Chapter 9 describes the questionnaires for measuring relating and interrelating (see section on Measures of Relating and Interrelating ), and indicates how these can be used in the initial assessment of the psychotherapy patient, or the couple seeking couple therapy, and for the assessment of improvement at stages through therapy and at the end of therapy.

It needs to be stressed that, whether or not the therapist or the client is aware of it, and whatever form of therapy is used, relating forms a major part of what gets talked about in therapy, and relating deficits get corrected over the course of therapy.

Towards the end of the book the term relating therapy emerges, to refer to a form of psychotherapy in which therapist and client (or a couple), work collaboratively together to correct specific relating deficiencies. In relating therapy, more so than in other forms of therapy, the part played by the relating of others towards the client is focused upon, and the circular nature of relating and being related to is explained. The client is helped to devise strategies for coping with the negative relating of certain key others towards her/him, or the client may even be advised to limit her/his involvement with such key others.

An integral component of relating therapy is the use of a measuring instrument (see section on Measures of Relating and Interrelating) to indicate areas of deficiency and to serve as a monitor of change.


01. Relating and its relevance for psychotherapy
02. The inner brain and the outer brain
03. The proximity axis in relating
04. The proximity axis in psychotherapy
05. The power axis in relating
06. The power axis in psychotherapy
07. Interrelating
08. Interrelating in psychotherapy
09. Measuring relating and interrelating in psychotherapy
10. The emergence of a new approach to psychotherapy

Dr Derry Macdiarmid, Senior Fellow in Psychotherapy, Guy's Hospital Medical School, London, wrote, "This is a very rich book...a marvellous digest of a very broad range of approaches...a significant step forward in the integration of the psychotherapies...a great pleasure to read, especially because of the wealth of human observation which it incorporates."

Tirril Harris ( 2000), Senior Research Fellow, Socio-Medical Research Centre, Guy's, Kings and St Thomas' School of Medicine, London, wrote "What is rewarding about this book is the structural clarity and simplicity of its perspective - something so much easier to use with psychotherapy clients than customary psychodynamic terminology...despite its apparent origins in the academic realms of psychological theory and psychometric measurement, it is as a book on the craft of psychotherapy that the book can be even more highly valued."

Dr Jill Savege Scharff (2000), of the International Institute of Object Relations Therapy, Washington, wrote, "For individual, group, couple and family therapists, Relating in Psychotherapy does an excellent job of providing a theory that helps in thinking about two important aspects of human relating, measuring difficulty in these areas, and providing a psychotherapeutic approach that is valid in many formats and the effect of which is measurable. Above all, this book empowers clinicians to do their own clinical outcome research which can restore confidence in their methodology at a time when its efficacy has been challenged by a society that tends to choose medication over psychotherapy."

Dr Anthony Bateman (2000), Secretary of the Psychotherapy Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, wrote "The book is easy to read, well structured, and demonstrates the author's wide knowledge of different psychotherapies...The author should be congratulated for his painstaking work in developing a theory, putting it into practice, and producing meaningful measurement. This is a formidable attempt to produce an evidence-based psychotherapy."

Dr Dale Mathers (2001), of the International Association of Analytical Psychology, wrote, "I commend this book to you. The theory cuts across all forms (schools) of therapy, and is a way of describing each school in terms of relating, in both the client and the therapist...I hope it will be widely read."


Bateman, A.W. (2000) Book Review, British Journal of Psychiatry, 176, 499-503.
Birtchnell, J. (1999) Relating in Psychotherapy: The Application of a New Theory. Westport, Con.: Praeger. Came out as a paperback (Brunner-Routledge) in May, 2002.
Harris, T. (2000) Book Review, British Journal of Medical Psychology, 73, 567-568.
Mathers, D. (2001) Book Review. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 18, 134-137.
Savege Scharff, J. (2000) Book Review, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 54, 118-120.