By Becky Gennerman-Schroeder, Program Coordinator
The therapeutic alliance remains to be one of the most, if not the most, important factor in increasing successful outcomes in psychotherapy. Therapeutic alliance can be defined as the extent to which a client and therapist work collaboratively and purposefully and connect emotionally, and is believed to be an important factor that cuts across various treatment approaches. This alliance or relationship or connection is often what is found to be most consistently impactful with regards to therapeutic outcomes.
Clearly, NAMI has always had an understanding of the power of relationships, of connections with others who can relate to our pain and to our struggles. NAMI’s founding mothers found each other and connected and supported one another through their struggles with their children’s mental illness. These founders reached out to other parents who were going through similar struggles. They met, they connected, and this continued until NAMI grew into the organization it is today.
NAMI uses the term Connection in one of its signature support group programs and it rings throughout all of the programming that NAMI is a part of. A large part of our mission is focused on this concept of connection, which is to support and empower everyone touched by mental illness. We are committed to eliminating stigma and nurturing recovery through education, support, advocacy, and outreach. None of this work can be accomplished without connecting with others. We connect with consumers, with family members, with community organizations, with schools, etc.
There is something extremely powerful about connection. You don’t have to be a mental health professional, or work at NAMI, or be in the “helping field” to connect with someone. People may think that it takes special training to connect with others or that they just don’t have that innate ability to connect with someone else. Or, people may worry that they are intruding on another's life by trying to connect. I’m of the belief system that we all have the skills to connect with others. I also strongly believe that others desire to be connected with. Many people out there are just hopeful that they will connect with someone, even if just for a few moments.
My challenge to us all is to keep trying to connect with others. Ask someone how they are doing and really mean it. Wait for them to answer, look at them and listen to what they tell you. Connection might be exactly what that person needed that day.