Harlene Anderson developed Collaborative therapy through out the course of her work as a therapist and in the process of informal research with those she worked with in her therapeutic session. She was immensely interested in understanding how therapy worked well for some people while for some it did not work at all. Anderson went on to discover what helps in facilitation of the transformation process of therapy and the types of conversations therapists could have with the client to enhance their feeling of hopefulness. Anderson went on with her informal research by actively discussing with conversational partners, which included colleagues, clients, and students. These dialogues helped Anderson to come up with the postmodern collaborative approach upon which the collaborative therapy is founded.
What to expect?
In a collaborative therapy session the person involved in the therapy and the therapist engage in conversation with each other, to put precisely they talk with each other and does not talk to each other. Individuals share their story while a therapist actively listens to it and tries to be empathetic. To encourage dialogue, the therapist make active efforts and communicates through comment and questions. By developing a cooperative relationship, a new understanding is created, allowing for transformation.
How does it work?
An important part of collaborative therapy is that the therapist understands that the client is the expert on his or her experience. The therapist sheds his or her identity as the expert or the authority figure or neither do they depict that theey have greater knowledge or understanding. They may simply offer their own suggestions or perspective, but they avoid covert imposition of their ideas on the client.
There are specific techniques a collaborative therapist might use, like inviting the client to narrate their story in in a way they feel suitable and at their own pace and depicting and practicing genuine interest in their experience. The therapist should attentively listen and respond, paying attention to verbal and nonverbal communication, enquiring the person in therapy if their perception of the experience is accurate, and pause, using silence to create space for reflection and time for facilitation of thoughts.
When it is used?
Collaborative therapy can be employed with individuals or groups, any types of group like couples, families, or other types of social systems. The collaborative relationships, formation of therapeutic rapport and dialogues fundamental to collaborative therapy can occur in groups of many sizes. This method is significantly influenced by postmodernism, and it is used to treat individuals, families, groups, and even organizations.
Role of therapist:
People, couples, or groups seeking psychotherapy to achieve mutual understanding, resolve conflict or improve communication might find collaborative therapy helpful for exploring different perspectives. Collaborative therapy is a therapeutic stance and not a model, therefore it was developed for the purpose of treating any specific issue or diagnosis mental disorders. Instead, it is an approach that aids people in making positive transformations and addressing different types of issues and concerns. The therapist might choose to focus on nearly any need or agenda revealed by the person in therapy. The collaborative approach between individual and therapist finds immense importance and is particularly helpful to those experiencing issues with power differentials in relationships or those who have problem with trusting others, like that of a figures of authority.
2. Anderson, H. (2001). Postmodern collaborative and person-centered therapies: What would Carl Rogers say? Journal of Family Therapy, 4(23), 339-360. doi: 10.1111/1467-6427.00189
3. Anderson, H. (2007, October 5). The therapist and the postmodern therapy system: A way of being with others.