By Colin McVicker, MA, RP | Hasu eCounselling
Client-centred therapy or “Rogerian Psychotherapy” has been in practice since the 1940s as a founding component of the work done by Carl Rogers. Rogers believed that for the therapeutic relationship between client and clinician to support the change/recovery process, there needs to be six key ingredients: relationship, vulnerability to anxiety (on the part of the client), genuineness (the therapist is truly himself or herself and incorporates some self-disclosure), the client's perception of the therapist's genuineness, the therapist's unconditional positive regard for the client and accurate empathy.
Over my 17 years of experience working as a professional therapist in the Addictions and Mental Health field, I have had the privilege of working with a variety of different people who have played a variety of different roles (substance user, spouse, family, employer, friend, teacher, etc…). I would agree that the authenticity of the relationship between client and clinician is often a hallmark as to the depth and scope of the topics that will be covered through the counsellor/client relationship. If there is a chance for a genuine/authentic relationship to be cultivated between the clinician and the client, the outcomes can be amazing!
Being client-centred, to me, means that the clinician effectively manages their own biases about a situation and instead of giving advice to a client, the clinician works to understand the magnitude of the event/situation from the client’s perspective. In order to get out of oneself and into someone else’s reality takes a great deal of energy as this is often done through the clinician asking poignant questions about the client’s values, interpretations/mental models and emotional connections to the event/situation. This is often the client’s “work” in the therapeutic relationship. These connections will not always be clear.
Before I enter my first clinical session with a new client, I remind myself how vulnerable it can feel to talk to a stranger about areas in one’s life that they want to change of which they not be terribly proud. It is often through taking this initial risk that we can truly understand how strong we really are.
1. Prochaska, J.O & Norcross, J.C. 2007. Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Analysis. Thompson Books/Cole:New York.