In this approach, the counsellor helps the client with their present-day problems by looking at how they may have developed from past events and relationships. Early-life experiences can develop into recurring patterns of thinking, feeling and acting, that continue to repeat in life, unless he or she becomes aware of these unconscious patterns.
Many of these recurring patterns came about when the person needed to cope or survive a situation, and were useful at the time, but as time passes, the patterns start to hold the person back in life. The counsellor and client work together to become aware of these patterns, at home, at work and in relationships, and change them to be life-enhancing.
The relationship between client and counsellor that develops over time is also examined to see if there are similarities in which the client interacts with others, like friends, loved ones or colleagues. Transference in session -- for example, the transferring of one’s feelings for a parent, onto the counsellor — can also help reveal ways that past relationships affect current relationships. The client can then work with the counsellor to change that relationship dynamic to a more healthy one.