Psychotherapy is a process serving to change the quality of life of a person when their emotions, thoughts, relationship coping strategies seem to fail, bringing them dissatisfaction and unhappiness. To improve the psychological and social
functioning, a trained specialist offers to a client a plan of actions, exercises, contemplation that will help them to deal with their problems. One starts their change of life in a safe space of psychologist’s office. Clients may speak, with no censorship, their thoughts, fears and ideas out loud- maybe for the first time in their lives. Guided by the psychologist, they learn, among other skills, how to express their feelings, needs in the socially accepted way.
Opening up in front of a stranger, facing our experiences and weaknesses is naturally confronting, therefore, it often brings fear, guilt and resistance. That is why it is so important on the side of a psychotherapist to create a good therapeutic alliance- so that clients feel listened, understood and accepted.
To ensure such an alliance, many countries introduced law regulating the principle of confidentiality. In Belgium all psychologists (beware! Not every psychotherapist is a psychologist!) must keep the secrets confined them by their clients according to article no. 458 of penal code. It also lets them reveal the secrets under special circumstances. All clients should be informed about the principle of confidentiality and its exceptions before starting psychotherapy.
To avoid the trap of a “structureless therapy”, a client and a psychotherapist agree on a therapeutic contract. Usually it includes the aims of the therapy, its predictable length, frequency and length of the sessions, the rules regulating cancelling the sessions and the price and way of the payment. Thanks to the therapeutic contract, it is easier to evaluate the psychotherapeutic process. It should be done on every step of the therapy to allow the client and the therapist to stop and think about what prevents them from finalizing their goals, and what could they do to improve it.