As I reflect on the concept of immediacy in the counselling room, I am struck by the power and potential of this technique to facilitate deeper levels of growth and self-awareness in the client. A counsellor bringing their own feelings and observations can be challenging and uncomfortable for both the therapist and the client. However, when used effectively, immediacy can help to build a strong therapeutic alliance and create a more collaborative and interactive therapeutic process.”
According to Yalom ‘immediacy refers to the therapist’s ability to be present and authentic with the client in the moment. It involves being aware of one’s own thoughts and feelings and sharing them with the client in a way that is helpful and appropriate.
Immediacy creates an authentic relationship
One of the key ways that immediacy works in the therapy room is by creating a more authentic and transparent relationship between the therapist and the client. By sharing their own thoughts and feelings, the therapist models vulnerability and honesty, which can help to reduce the power differential between therapist and client. This can create a more equal and supportive therapeutic relationship, which can help the client to feel seen and understood in a more profound way.
Immediacy helps clients self-awareness
Another aspect of immediacy that I find particularly impactful is its potential to facilitate insight and growth. By bringing their own reactions to the therapeutic conversation, the therapist can help the client to see patterns in their own behaviour or thought processes that they may not have noticed before. This can lead to deeper levels of self-awareness and understanding, which can help the client to make more meaningful changes in their life.
Immediacy creates a collaborative process
Finally, immediacy can help to create a more collaborative and interactive therapeutic process. When the therapist is willing to share their own thoughts and reactions, it creates a space for the client to respond in a more dynamic way. This can lead to a more engaged and interactive therapeutic process, which can be more effective in creating lasting change in the client.
Risks of immediacy
There are also risks and potential drawbacks that must be considered when using this approach. One of the main risks for the client is that they may feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable with the therapist’s directness and openness. For some clients, having the therapist share their own thoughts and reactions may feel intrusive or confrontational, which can lead to feelings of defensiveness or resistance.
Another risk for the client is that they may feel unsupported or invalidated if the therapist’s reactions are not well-timed or well-managed. For example, if the therapist shares a critical or judgmental reaction at a particularly vulnerable moment for the client, it could cause the client to feel misunderstood or unsupported. Additionally, if the therapist is not skilled in managing their own emotional reactions, it could create a chaotic or unpredictable therapeutic environment that could be unsettling for the client.
Finally, there is a risk that the therapist’s use of immediacy could create an inappropriate or unprofessional dynamic in the therapeutic relationship. For example, if the therapist shares too much personal information or becomes too emotionally involved in the client’s process, it could blur the boundaries between the therapeutic relationship and other types of relationships. This could create confusion or discomfort for the client, and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of the therapeutic process.