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Person-Centred Therapy in Focus (Counselling & Psychotherapy in Focus Series). Paul Wilkins.

Ch 7 ‘Non-Directivity’: A Fiction and an Irresponsible Denial of Power?

Added:

2021-12-19

… a ‘non-directive’ approach is seen by some to be a denial of the inevitable power of the therapist the second of Rogers’ six conditions requires that the client is vulnerable or anxious clients are likely to follow what they perceive as directions from them.

for person-centred therapists to pretend they are non-directive is to deny reality leads to an avoidance of the real issue of the imbalance of power the importance of the non-directive approach is found in Rogers’ Counseling and Psychotherapy (1942).

the person-centred view of non-directivity has been essentially structural whereas a functional view might be more appropriate. The importance of directivity is not in what the counsellor does but in what the client experiences. Whether my behaviour as a therapist looks directive or non-directive to my peers is entirely irrelevant The question which should be asked is not ‘is the therapist behaving directlvely?’, but ‘is the client being directed?’

The Place of ‘Non-Directivity’ in Person-Centred Therapy

 

  • a ‘non-directive’ approach is seen by some to be a denial of the inevitable power of the therapist  (Loc: 1,731)

  • the second of Rogers’ six conditions requires that the client is vulnerable or anxious  (Loc: 1,735)

  • clients are likely to follow what they perceive as directions from them.  (Loc: 1,736)

  • for person-centred therapists to pretend they are non-directive is to deny reality  (Loc: 1,737)

  • leads to an avoidance of the real issue of the imbalance of power  (Loc: 1,738)

  • the importance of the non-directive approach is found in  (Loc: 1,743)

  • Rogers’ Counseling and Psychotherapy (1942).  (Loc: 1,744)

  • Rogers sets forth the ‘characteristics of directive and nondirective viewpoints’.  (Loc: 1,746)

  • the basic difference in purpose between these two centres around who chooses the client’s goals.  (Loc: 1,747)

  • Nondirective counselling is based on the assumption that the client has the right to select his own life goals, even though these may be at variance with the goals his counsellor might choose for him.  (Loc: 1,748)

  • if the individual has a modicum of insight into himself and his problems, he will be likely to make this choice wisely.  (Loc: 1,750)

  • the second sentence leaves more to discussion and debate,  (Loc: 1,753)

  • as to the source of the client’s insight.  (Loc: 1,754)

  • Does it, for example, arise from an innate actualising tendency or the well-crafted interpretations or interventions of the skilled therapist?  (Loc: 1,754)

  • Kirschenbaum and Henderson (1990a: 62),  (Loc: 1,755)

  • the nondirective approach overemphasized specific counsellor techniques,  (Loc: 1,757)

  • did not give enough attention to the counsellor’s attitudes toward the client and how the client perceived the relationship.  (Loc: 1,757)

  • he came to believe that the quality of the relationship ... [was more important in] therapeutic change than the specific techniques the therapist employed.  (Loc: 1,758)

  • quite early on, Rogers ceased to call his approach to therapy ‘nondirective’  (Loc: 1,760)

  • Non-directivity in the sense of assiduously avoiding imposing the therapist’s will upon the client and trusting that the client will progress in the most appropriate way (that is, belief in the actualising tendency) remains at the heart of the approach.  (Loc: 1,762)

  • What Does it Mean to be Non-Directive?  (Loc: 1,764)

  • One view is that ‘non-directive therapy’ was a precursor of client-centred/person-centred  (Loc: 1,766)

  • that implicit in the change of name is a recognition that therapy cannot be ‘non-directive’.  (Loc: 1,767)

  • other view is that non-directivity remains at the core of person-centred practice.  (Loc: 1,767)

  • there is still an assumption by some outside the approach that person-centred practitioners are relatively passive,  (Loc: 1,770)

  • Although the term ‘non-directive counselling’ may be out of favour,  (Loc: 1,779)

  • a non-directive attitude remains fundamental to the approach  (Loc: 1,781)

  • the theoretical basis  (Loc: 1,781)

  • a non-directive attitude  (Loc: 1,783)

  • responding mainly in the client’s frame of reference)  (Loc: 1,783)

  • developed and maintained ‘because of [the] commitment to, respect for, and trust in the client  (Loc: 1,784)

  • clients formulate their own goals and that the therapist is a companion on the journey, not a leader.  (Loc: 1,788)

  • by tracking and responding (empathically, acceptingly and congruently)  (Loc: 1,789)

  • that person-centred therapy ‘works’ and only by that.  (Loc: 1,790)

  • Mearns and Thorne (2000: 190–1)  (Loc: 1,791)

  • person-centred practitioners and theorists in their attention to directivity ‘have been decidedly naive over the last 60 years’.  (Loc: 1,792)

  • the person-centred view of non-directivity has been essentially structural  (Loc: 1,793)

  • whereas a functional view might be more appropriate.  (Loc: 1,794)

  • The importance of directivity is not in what the counsellor does but in what the client experiences.  (Loc: 1,795)

  • Whether my behaviour as a therapist looks directive or non-directive to my peers is entirely irrelevant  (Loc: 1,796)

  • The question which should be asked is not ‘is the therapist behaving directlvely?’, but ‘is the client being directed?’  (Loc: 1,797)

  • when I am sure of my clients’  (Loc: 1,800)

  • largely internalised locus of evaluation (at least in the moment),  (Loc: 1,800)

  • am more likely to make responses which could be interpreted as from my frame of reference.  (Loc: 1,801)

  • this is an important part of a move to ‘mutuality’  (Loc: 1,801)

  • it is part of my increasing emergence as a ‘person’ within the therapeutic relationship.  (Loc: 1,802)

  • that, in order to do this, there is a need for therapists to develop ‘a sophisticated, highly empathic therapeutic relationship’  (Loc: 1,810)

  • 194): ‘if the therapeutic relationship does not contain the dimension of “meeting at relational depth”, it will be virtually impossible to assess the client’s locus of evaluation’.  (Loc: 1,813)

  • ‘Directivity’ and Therapist interventions  (Loc: 1,821)

  • Bowen (1996: 84–94) views ‘nondirectiveness’ as a ‘myth’  (Loc: 1,822)

  • Lietaer (1998: 62–73) takes the view that non-directivity is an impossible concept  (Loc: 1,829)

  • Brodley (1999b: 79–82) takes exception  (Loc: 1,831)

  • pointing out that it refers to an attitude rather than to specific behaviour.  (Loc: 1,832)

  • This attitude is about not exerting power over the client.  (Loc: 1,834)

  • The nondirective attitude is psychologically profound, it is not a technique.  (Loc: 1,835)

  • it becomes an aspect of the therapists character, it represents a feeling of profound respect for the constructive potential in persons and great sensitivity to their vulnerability.  (Loc: 1,837)

  • Here, as with other person-centred behaviours, it is intention that matters.  (Loc: 1,843)

  • Can the use of ‘Techniques’ be Person-Centred?  (Loc: 1,851)

  • For some, any suggestion or invitation which comes from the frame of reference of the therapist is directive and therefore incompatible with classic client-centred therapy.  (Loc: 1,863)

  • there is a way of thinking which does not acknowledge that there is a powerful direction (‘Talk to me’) in classic client-centred therapy which is in reality no different from the ‘directions’ of the person-centred creative therapist. ‘Dance with me’ or ‘Draw with me’ seem to have no greater weight than ‘Talk to me’. To avoid creative and expressive forms of therapy because they can not be person-centred is not only mistaken but potentially limiting. People express themselves in many ways other than words. To deny these expressions in therapy is to restrict and confine when ‘holism’ is the professed goal. I suppose a classic client-centred argument could be that if these things are important to the client, then the client will introduce them. That may be so – but is it not more likely that the client will obey the implicit ‘talk to me’ direction?  (Loc: 1,867)

  • Rogers as saying in a presentation in 1975: ‘If a therapist has the attitudes we have come to regard as essential, probably he or she can use a variety of techniques.’  (Loc: 1,877)

  • The issue of Power: The Myth of Mutuality?  (Loc: 1,879)

  • I believe that effective person-centred therapy depends upon therapists being fully present as powerful people who, rather than denying their power in a relationship, are acutely aware of it and seek to exercise it in a constructive, influential way.  (Loc: 1,881)

  • however, consciously seek to avoid directing and dominating the other person.  (Loc: 1,883)

  • In a mutual relationship no one person continually dominates or leads,  (Loc: 1,887)

  • A mutual relationship is co-operative and collaborative,  (Loc: 1,888)

  • as the person-centred therapeutic relationship develops, so there is a developing reciprocal trust  (Loc: 1,894)

  • This leads to the development of mutuality which is a central process in the person-centred relationship.  (Loc: 1,895)

  • From the time mutuality is established, both counsellor and client experience their work as a truly shared enterprise and they can trust each other’s commitment to achieve and maintain genuineness in relation to each other.  (Loc: 1,896)

  • Lietaer (1998: 65) takes the view that ‘nondirective’ therapy as it was originally defined was prescriptive and that these prescriptions have outlived their usefulness. He writes (pp. 66–7):  (Loc: 1,930)

  • (most) client-centred therapists have lost their directivity phobia; they no longer feel uneasy about describing their work as an active influencing process in which task-oriented responses and Interventions are used to stimulate or even give an impetus to the unfolding of the client’s experiential process. They have learned to take the Initiative in an active way as process experts, without slipping into manipulation and authoritarian control.  (Loc: 1,932)

  • I am nowhere near as sure as Lietaer that ‘most’ client-centred therapists would be comfortable with the notion of making ‘task-oriented’ interventions. Nevertheless, there is an increasing number of therapists describing themselves as person-centred who see themselves as ‘process experts’ in the meaning of Lietaer  (Loc: 1,935)

  • ‘the concept of collaborative power is inherent in the theory of the person-centered approach’ and describes relationships based in it as characterised by:  (Loc: 1,943)

  • openness (all information is fully shared) responsiveness (all needs and ideas are carefully heard) dignity (everyone is respected and considered) personal empowerment (each person affected feels free and responsible to participate fully) alternating influence (impact on group process moves from one person to another as a result of self-awareness, wisdom, experience, or expressed need) co-operation rather than competition (Loc: 1,945)