Raffaela Witting: «The client-therapist relationship has a significant impact on the success of therapy»

Portrait series psychotherapist:inside | 9th Sep 2023

At the age of 11, she wrote an essay at school about how she would one day study psychology in Vienna. A goal she pursued and achieved with passion and perseverance. Fast-forward to today: Raffaela Witting has been working as a psychologist for about 10 years and has also completed further training as a psychotherapist. At the beginning of her self-employment, she became aware of Aepsy – since then she has supported numerous people via the Aepsy platform.

For 10 years you have been helping people navigate challenging times. What is your biggest insight you have made during this time?

I think it was realizing how important the therapeutic relationship really is, that it's not just the specific techniques or interventions that have the greatest impact on client's change and growth, but more importantly the quality of the relationship between therapist and client. The therapeutic relationship is a powerful and transformative force and has a critical impact on the success of therapy. This realization has deepened my understanding of the complexity of the human psyche and the importance of interpersonal connections.

Many people prefer to discuss challenging issues with friends or family members. Why is it still useful to talk to a mental health professional?

Talking with a friend can undoubtedly be helpful. But sometimes an objective, unbiased outside perspective is more helpful. This is where the differences from the therapeutic conversation come into play, which is characterized by a professional and neutral relationship. Therapists are unbiased and create a safe space, which allows one to open up completely. In addition, psychotherapy guarantees confidentiality, so all information shared during therapy remains protected. In addition, psychotherapists have in-depth training and expertise in mental health, whereas a friend may not have the same knowledge or experience. Therapists can therefore use specific techniques and interventions to bring about the desired change. This allows for targeted and effective support on the path to positive change and growth.

When is the right time to start therapy or psychological coaching?

I don't think there is a right or wrong time to start therapy. If you feel that you need support, it makes sense to seek professional help. This is where Aepsy plays an important role, it offers an opportunity for people to talk before they slip into a crisis.

Therapists are specialized in supporting people in overcoming challenges. The reasons for seeking therapy can be many and varied: Dealing with stress or anxiety, persistent negative emotions, problems in interpersonal relationships, stressful life events. Even if there is no acute concern, psychotherapy, or coaching can be helpful in working on personal growth and self-development.

What do you value most about your work?

The opportunity to support people through difficult times in their lives and help them make positive changes. I love creating a trusting environment where they can open up to share their fears, concerns, and challenges. It is extremely rewarding to witness the changes people can experience during the therapeutic process. Each client is unique, and each therapeutic relationship presents me with new challenges. The opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others is inspiring and fulfilling.

**Is there anything that people should be aware of before they start therapy or coaching?

The conversational setting can be new and unfamiliar at first, sometimes you get blindsided by emotions. But there is space for all of this, and it is perfectly okay. It is helpful if you already know what you want to achieve with therapy and where you want to go. Psychotherapy is not magic that immediately solves all problems; it requires active cooperation and time. A pinch of patience with yourself and the process is certainly beneficial. There can be setbacks, but that is normal. Change happens not only during the sessions, but also through one's own efforts between sessions.

**What can clients expect from therapy or psychological coaching?

Therapy or psychological coaching offer a safe, protected space where everything has a place and nothing gets out. Clients can expect psychotherapy to help them cope with emotional challenges and difficult experiences. For example, the therapist helps identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and develop new, healthier alternatives. Through exploration of thoughts, feelings, and life experiences, deeper causes of problems are uncovered and worked on.

Your opinion: How does a client know if she or he has found the right professional? And vice versa, how does one recognize that perhaps it is not the right match?

The relationship with the therapist is crucial. Trust and good chemistry are important factors for the success of a collaboration. It is critical to feel comfortable in the therapeutic relationship. If you feel that the chemistry is not right, or you cannot build trust, you should address this with the therapist. Open communication can help to clear up misunderstandings and, if necessary, to find a solution, either by making adjustments in the approach or by finding another professional who is a better fit.

Psychotherapy training also includes self-experience with different psychologists and therapists. What could you take away from this experience?

By intensively dealing with unresolved emotional issues and past experiences, I developed a deeper understanding of myself and my personal relationships. In this way, my therapists have definitely helped me to understand myself better and thus to grow personally.

By working through my own emotional processes, I can be more empathetic and sensitive to the challenges and needs of my clients. I have learned to better put myself in their shoes and understand their perspectives. I believe that by experiencing therapy firsthand, one becomes empowered to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience to develop one's own therapeutic approach. In addition, psychotherapy can be a demanding profession that involves a great deal of emotional stress. Self-experience serves as a form of psycho-hygiene and thus self-care.

**What helps you deal with your own (mental) challenges?

A balance in my free time and private life is very important to me, and I find it in various sports. For example, climbing is an excellent stress management strategy for me. Every movement requires concentration and attention, this feeling of focus and mindfulness helps me to leave everyday life behind and relieve stress. What also helps me and is fun is learning new skills and planning and implementing private projects. A few months ago I started playing the cello and once a week I go to Spanish lessons. My current project is my sailing license, which I am doing together with my boyfriend. Moreover, supervision is extremely helpful to reflect on my work and to benefit from other perspectives and experiences. Last but not least, I also go to self-awareness sessions every now and then to work on personal issues and to maintain my mental balance.

**What would you like to share with our readers?

The destigmatization of psychological problems is very close to my heart. While it is socially accepted to go to the doctor with a physical ailment and seek help, this is often not the case with mental issues. Mental concerns are just as real and serious as physical illnesses and can affect anyone. They are not a matter of weakness or failure and deserve the same attention and care as physical ailments.

I hope that one day we will all get to the point where we feel safe enough to talk about mental health problems without fear of being judged – and I think we are well on our way.

Why did you choose to work with Aepsy?

I became aware of Aepsy through an investor who told me about it. After that, I checked out the website and set up a video call with Nicolas. Since I had just started semi-self-employment a month before, working with Aepsy was just the right thing to do.

What I like about being self-employed is the flexibility and the opportunity to take responsibility for the way I work. In addition, I have specialized in certain target groups and areas of expertise and can thus apply my knowledge and experience specifically to the needs of my clients. Aepsy makes it very easy for me, as I receive requests from clients and the invoicing is done by Aepsy.
I can only recommend Aepsy to other psychologists and therapists. In addition to acquisition and invoicing, Aepsy also offers opportunities such as intervision and community talks. In addition, one always receives an answer to questions and concerns very promptly and is supported whenever possible.


About Raffaela

Raffaela Witting is a federally certified psychotherapist focusing on trauma & anxiety, stress management & burnout, and couples and relationship counseling. Since 2022, Raffaela has been supporting people through psychological coaching and psychotherapy via the Aepsy platform. More about Raffaela

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