Owen (2015), in Phenomenology in Action in Psychotherapy, explains “Understandings at explicit and implicit levels form worlds with others where there are common objects of attention.” In the therapeutic relationship (as with any relationship), contact is made when there is awareness that what each individual understands of the situation is subjective.
This understanding functions to bring common ground in the relationship. Owen adds that “People have unique personalities and inhabit social contexts and culture, in larger contexts of society and history, through being aware of meaningful cultural objects (although such conscious awareness is influenced by implicit and biological forces). Therefore, a special attention is provided for what it means to relate in a context, (…) This includes the consideration of meaning within an attention to the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy” (p. 2). The therapist, for the maintenance of the alliance, needs to first be conscious of these socio-cultural biases of the therapist’s self towards the phenomena of the on-going present situation in the therapy session.
As discussed in this article, awareness of transference and countertransference forces within the alliance is the tool for the therapist to work through the patient’s resistance, and providing effective psychotherapy. Absence of this awareness on the part of the therapist, renders the therapy process at best non-effective.
Owen, I. R. (2015). Phenomenology in Action in Psychotherapy.