How is therapeutic adherence generated in psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a process of helping people that never relies on one-sidedness: it requires the interest and deliberate participation of both therapist and patient, although only one of them adopts the role of a professional. trained and trained to devote themselves to this type of interventions If there is a clear asymmetry in the involvement of these people, the psychotherapy will not progress, or even be interrupted.

In the same way, it does not help that, in the first sessions, the patient and the professional make an effort to move the therapy forward if, in the following stages, the first loses interest and decides to give up, ceasing to attend appointments with the psychologist. And this is precisely why the concept of therapeutic adherence is essential, since psychotherapists must apply a series of strategies to minimize the likelihood that the patient will cease to engage in the course of the psychological intervention. In this sense, we will speak here of the most important measures adopted to generate therapeutic adherence in psychotherapy.

The pillars of therapeutic adherence in the consultation of the psychologist

These are the main elements of the development of therapeutic adhesion between the psychologist and the patient (duly adapted to each particular case).

1. Apply active listening

The experience of being able to express oneself openly about what one has not been able or dared to say to others is one of the first generative aspects of well-being that psychotherapy brings to the patient. This is why it is important make it easier for him to get involved in this process, which goes beyond simply listening; you need to make this person feel heard, which happens by giving them constant feedback through gestures on what they’re saying, maintaining eye contact, punctuation, brief requests for clarification, etc. All this without interrupting or slowing down the fluidity of the dialogue.

2. Never prejudge or share strong opinions

Ensuring that patients do not feel judged when they attend psychotherapy sessions and talk about what is happening to them is perhaps the main pillar of therapeutic adherence. It means to convey, both verbally and non-verbally, that we don’t make value judgments about their lives, their past actions, and their ways of dealing with emotional pain, among others. Similarly, and this is something that is sometimes overlooked, it is recommended not to express opinions that are too extreme or strong on polarizing or topical subjects. Thus, the fear of reflecting an ideology different or even opposed to that of the therapist, subject to criticism, is not encouraged.

3. Inform the patient and dispel his doubts and concerns

Helping the patient to understand the reason for the behaviors that make them feel bad is essential so that they do not have to spend a lot of time talking about their problems during the sessions; This is true because some people have to deal with a great sense of guilt every time they talk openly about their past and how they coped with life’s problems. Likewise, help him get rid of unfounded worries and myths about, for example, the psychopathology that he has developed and because of which he is going to a consultation, it is a good way to prevent it from ending by wanting to avoid thinking about it at all costs by stopping going to therapy and trying to live like nothing bad happened

4. Set long-term and short-term goals

The formulation of short-term goals (i.e., which can be achieved in a few hours or days) is necessary so that the patient feels that by making an effort in the present moment, he can experience satisfaction. to have progressed in psychotherapy. treat. If there are only long-term mints, they will be too abstract arouse their interest and commitment.

5. Highlight achievements made so far

Commenting on the patient’s accomplishments so far and expressing satisfaction with their engagement in therapy is a very good measure of positive reinforcement for their behavior and will make them feel on the path to improving their situation, so that throwing in the towel at this time would mean the loss of all those victories that he has accumulated and which will be very present thanks to the reminders of the professional on all that he has achieved.

6. Call when there are absences and take advantage of online therapy

It is useless to show passivity in the face of absences from the meetings scheduled on the agenda; one must act by making at least one phone call to find out the reasons for his absence, which serves to reflect that this missed opportunity has objective consequences beyond the patient’s subjectivity. In addition, faced with possible inconveniences such as traveling to another city from time to time, the option of holding online sessions by video call can be considered so that he wouldn’t feel like that chain of appointments with the psychologist had broken down anyway and that going away again wouldn’t be a great loss.

7. If possible, involve the family

If you can maintain contact with the patient’s relatives, it will facilitate this person has allies in the therapeutic process at home, people who will help you achieve the objectives set in therapy and who will encourage you not to stop going to meetings with the psychologist. Of course, specifying at all times that confidential information discussed during the sessions will not be shared with other family members without their permission.

Do you want to train in psychotherapy?

If you are interested in learning the theory and practice of medication adherence and many other aspects of the work of psychologists when caring for patients, you will be interested. the Online Professional Master in Integrative Psychotherapy offered by the Mensalus Institute in collaboration with the University of Nebrija.

This 6-month training program will allow you to observe and analyze real cases with patients, to carry out practical exercises and to benefit from the experience and supervision of teachers who devote most of their professional activity in psychotherapy. At the end of the postgraduate course, students receive their own university degree from Universidad Nebrija de Madrid.

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