chapter  5
The principle of non-directivity underpins person-centred therapy
Pages 4

In many ways, that the therapist has a non-directive attitude is the fundamental and original precept of person-centred therapy; however, it is and has been controversial more or less from Rogers' early statements of the principle in, for example, the classic Counseling and Psychotherapy (1942). It seems that most of this controversy centres on just what is meant by `nondirectivity'. For example, that the non-directive therapist is a `non-expert' in the sense that clients are the experts on themselves has been confused with a lack of expertise. Clearly, personcentred therapists are required to have expertise in the sense of adherence to practices rooted in a particular theory and speci®cally to those derived from the statement of the necessary and suf®cient conditions for constructive personality change (Rogers 1957: 96, 1959: 213) and a way of being in relationship. Also, being non-directive has sometimes been operationalised as a set of passive behaviours in the therapeutic encounter where the therapist does little but mechanistically `re¯ect' what has been heard or (worse) simply signals non-verbally `I am listening' ± the so-called `nodding dog' effect. Empathic responding, which is at the heart of classical client-centred therapy and therefore of a non-directive approach, requires much more of the therapist than these simple behaviours (Point 20).