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Developing A Therapeutic Climate

DEVELOPING A THERAPEUTIC CLIMATE

The late Carl Rogers developed the Person-Centred approach to counselling.  He coined the term counselling as a reaction to the medical model approach which was then synonymous with the term psychotherapy.   He talked of creating a climate for growth and change rooted firmly in the tenets of humanist psychology.  His approach was based on the quality of the relationship between therapist and client.  His goal was to facilitate a climate for change in which ‘being was more important than doing’.  The climate requires the therapist to be present as a person and share in a relationship that enables the client the freedom and safety to encounter her/his real (organismic) self.  Rogers (1988, 1989) held a fundamental belief that each individual is unique and therefore each therapeutic encounter was a subjective experience.  He argued that individuals have an innate growth tendency and could be trusted to optimise potential if they could get in touch with their real needs and discard false perceptions and attitudes relating to conditions of worth.

Readers who are not conversant with the contribution of Carl Rogers and humanistic psychology are encouraged to read:

Dryden Ed W (1992)                          Integrative and Eclectic Therapy

Open University Press

Mearns D & Thorne B (1991)             Person-Centred Counselling in Action

London:  Sage

Mearns D (1994)                                 Developing Person-Centred  Counselling

London:  Sage

Moursand J (1993)                              The Process of Counselling & Therapy

London:  Prentice Hall

Rogers C (1980)                                  A Way of Being

Boston:  Houghton Mifflin

Rogers C (1988)                                  On Becoming a Person

London:  Constable

Rogers C (1989)                                  Client-Centred Therapy

London:  Constable

Rogers’ theoretical orientation and his approach to therapy has been adopted by many practitioners and is arguably the widest adopted therapeutic approach.  Egan (1994) points out that in excess of 450 alternative approaches currently exist in counselling and psychotherapy.  Rogers not only left a philosophy of a one theory orientation he also left a legacy of a set of core conditions that have been integrated by degree across the plethora of alternative approaches.  Regardless of theoretical orientation the vast majority of recognised approaches to counselling and psychotherapy have validated Rogers’ assumptions about the need to generate a specific climate for growth and change.  Though theories differ enormously there has been a convergence of theories and therapeutic processes towards integrative models.  Theoretical bias may be weighted in favour of a core underpinning and interventions may be markedly different, but a central theme suggests contemporary approaches integrate Rogers’ philosophy on generating a therapeutic climate.

Rogers posited a view that the therapeutic climate required three core conditions.  The conditions are based on qualities rather than skills.  The conditions are easy to describe, but extremely complex in practice.  The demands on the person of the therapist are enormous.

EMPATHY

The need to understand the client from the client’s internal frame of reference.  Rogers talked of entering the ‘private perceptual world of the client as if it was your own, but not forgetting the as if quality’.  Empathy is a process and not a state.  It has to be worked towards and cannot be simply turned on.  It is a moment to moment encounter with the world of another that can be easily lost.  It is always prone to the contamination and distortion of the therapist’s external frame of reference.  Empathy should not be confused with sympathy.

GENUINENESS

The process of authenticity in which the therapist is present as a person beyond the professional role.  Offering a model of realness that enables the client to become genuine in her/his experiences.  Rogers talks of the need to be congruent which encapsulates the ability to say and do as you feel in the here and now of the moment to moment experiences.

UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD

Also incorporates RESPECT and ACCEPTANCE.  The quality of respecting the client as a unique individual with her/his own map of reality and her/his subjective experience of reality.  Trusting the client to know her/his own needs best and that she/he will always know more about self than the therapist ever can.  Prizing or valuing the client beyond presenting behaviours.  Not judging but accepting without the need to condone or condemn.

Along with yesterday’s blog the above represent the skills set that one should look for in a hypnotherapist and/or psychotherapist.

Shaun Brookhouse

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