chapter  46
The non-directive attitude is a fiction and an irresponsible denial of power
Pages 2

The principle of non-directivity is the bedrock of person-centred therapy (Point 5). However, this is sometimes criticised as a denial of the inevitable greater power of the therapist in the therapeutic relationship and/or as a practical impossibility. In the ®rst place, it is argued that because therapists are invested with knowledge and expertise and the client has neither, it is the former who has control of the session. Thus there is an inevitable imbalance of power. Indeed, because the second of Rogers' conditions requires that the client is at least to some extent vulnerable and anxious and this is likely to provoke and invoke feelings of powerlessness and a sense of a lack of control, person-centred theory may even seem to con®rm this inevitability. In these circumstances, whether therapists wish it or not, at least some clients are likely to follow what they perceive to be directions from them. So, the argument goes, for person-centred therapists to pretend they are non-directive is to deny reality and leads to an avoidance of the issue of the power imbalance in the therapeutic relationship. Also, it is argued that therapists have skills, knowledge and experience that they are professionally and ethically obliged to employ to the client's advantage. This is something person-centred practitioners are assumed to avoid and in so doing deprive and disadvantage their clients. All this is rooted in a misapprehension as to what in person-centred theory is meant by non-directivity.