The purpose of the current investigation was to explore adolescent clients’ experiences in the counseling relationship, especially the emotional bond to their therapist, in the context of school counseling in Taiwan. Six adolescent clients who received counseling for at least three sessions and were currently receiving counseling were recruited to participate in this study. A qualitative method with semi-structured in-depth interview was adopted to understand participants’ experiences. The mean age was 15.5 years, and ages ranged from 13 to 18 years. Five of the participants were girls and one was a boy. Three were junior high school students, and the rest were senior high school students. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Findings revealed four categories of experiences regarding the counseling relationship: clients’ perception of therapists’ personal traits and emotions, clients’ perception of therapists’ attitude toward them, clients’ reaction and evaluation of the counseling relationship, and clients’ changes outside the counseling sessions. The most significant finding identified by the authors was that clients’ reaction and evaluation of the counseling relationship could be divided into the following three subcategories: clients noticed that the counseling relationship was different from their other interpersonal relationships, clients experienced a positive emotional bond when interacting with their therapists, and clients’ internal reactions and behavior changed within the counseling relationship. Findings of the current study indicated that when adolescent clients perceive that their therapists treat them with respect, equality, acceptance, and care, which differs from their other interpersonal experiences, adolescent clients develop a sense of trust and intimacy with their therapist and are willing to cooperate with the therapist on therapeutic tasks, even changing the manner in which they interact with the therapist. After receiving counseling, they reported increased self-understanding, developed a more flexible manner of emotional expression, and exhibited more adaptive interpersonal behaviors. Based on these findings, the authors propose that future research could explore changes of the nature of the relationship during the course of counseling and effects of the counseling relationship on outcomes across the stages of counseling. Additionally, it is suggested that in clinical practice, building emotional connections and providing a positive interpersonal experience should be underscored when counseling adolescent clients.
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