A therapeutic relationship is a trusting connection established between an occupational therapist and a patient or client. Trust is formed through honest communication, collaboration, mutual understanding and therapist empathy. Occupational therapists work with clients in a purposeful and goal-directed relationship developed in the client's best interest and outcome.
In 1957, a psychologist named Carl Rogers developed a unique approach to understanding personality and human relationships. Rogers formulated three foundational concepts that are core to developing a therapeutic relationship between a therapist and client and include empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regard. Empathy is a therapists' ability to perceive a client's situations accurately and understand their current feelings. Genuineness relates to a therapist's ability to be open and honest with a client and is conveyed by listening and communicating without distorting messages. Unconditional positive regard is one's ability to view another person as worthy and see their strengths regardless of past experiences. Occupational therapists strive to use empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regard when working with clients to improve therapeutic outcomes.
"It seems to me that the good life is not a fixed state. It is not, in my estimation, a state of virtue, or contentment, or nirvana, or happiness. It is not a condition in which the individual is adjusted or fulfilled or actualized. The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination."
-From On Becoming a Person (Carl Rogers, 1961)
Rogers, C. R. 1. (1961). On becoming a person: a therapist's view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.