Relational depth: research and development

Mick Cooper

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

27 Downloads (Pure)


What does it mean to intimately encounter another? What is the experience of dialogical meeting? In recentyears, the field of person-centred and experiential therapies has seen the rapid emergence of the concept of'relational depth.' Defined as 'A state of profound contact and engagement between two people,' relational depth has many resonances with Buber's 'I-Thou' and 'dialogical' attitude and Stern's 'moments of meetings,' andreflects a shifts within the wider psychotherapeutic field towards relational and interpersonal models of practice.Mearns and Cooper's 'Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy' was published in 2005and, since that time, a number of research projects have been conducted to clarify and deepen an understandingof this phenomenon: for instance, studies into clients' experiences of in-depth encounter, the development of ascale to assess relational depth, and pilot studies examining the moment-to-moment experience of relationaldepth in the therapeutic dyad and the concordance between therapists' and clients' perceptions. Drawing thefindings of these studies together, this presentation will offer a state-of-the-art summary of what we know aboutthe experience of relational depth in therapy, and outline areas that may be ripe for further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Aug 2008
Event5th International Conference on the Dialogical Self - Cambridge, UK
Duration: 26 Aug 200829 Aug 2008


Conference5th International Conference on the Dialogical Self
CityCambridge, UK


  • person-centred and experiential therapies
  • relational depth
  • contact and engagement
  • Buber’s ‘I-Thou’ and ‘dialogical’ attitude
  • Stern’s ‘moments of meetings'
  • moment-to-moment experience
  • therapeutic dyad
  • therapist
  • client

Cite this