Many clients continue to see me for Counselling sessions even though they may have begun by using my Hypnotherapy service. They feel supported (in a confidential setting) whilst making changes in their lives. People can often understand how their past experience and current behaviour may be linked. This can lead to greater self-awareness and insight, thus facilitating positive change.
Primarily, I practise according to the Rogerian principles of empathy, congruency and unconditional positive regard.
Congruence is also called genuineness. Congruence is the most important attribute in counselling, according to Rogers. This means that, unlike the psychodynamic therapist who generally maintains a ‘blank screen’ and reveals little of their own personality in therapy, the Rogerian is keen to allow the client to experience them as they really are. The therapist does not have a façade (like psychoanalysis), that is, the therapist’s internal and external experiences are one in the same. In short, the therapist is authentic.
Unconditional Positive Regard
The next Rogerian core condition is unconditional positive regard. Rogers believed that for people to grow and fulfill their potential it is important that they are valued as themselves. This refers to the therapist’s deep and genuine caring for the client. The therapist may not approve of some of the client’s actions but the therapist does approve of the client. In short, the therapist needs an attitude of “I’ll accept you as you are.” The person-centered counsellor is thus careful to always maintain a positive attitude to the client, even when disgusted by the client’s actions.
Empathy is the ability to understand what the client is feeling. This refers to the therapist’s ability to understand sensitively and accurately [but not sympathetically] the client’s experience and feelings in the here-and-now. An important part of the task of the person-centered counsellor is to follow precisely what the client is feeling and to communicate to them that the therapist understands what they are feeling.
In the words of Carl Rogers (1975), accurate empathic understanding is as follows:
“If I am truly open to the way life is experienced by another person…if I can take his or her world into mine, then I risk seeing life in his or her way…and of being changed myself, and we all resist change. Since we all resist change, we tend to view the other person’s world only in our terms, not in his or hers. Then we analyze and evaluate it. We do not understand their world. But, when the therapist does understand how it truly feels to be in another person’s world, without wanting or trying to analyze or judge it, then the therapist and the client can truly blossom and grow in that climate.”
The Counselling “space” is somewhere you can feel safe to explore your feelings and know that what happens in a session is strictly confidential. The only exception to this is if you inform me that you are intending to cause serious harm to yourself or someone else.