chapter  85
Person-centred therapy and the `one size ®ts all' approach
Pages 2

Amongst at least classical client-centred therapists there has been a traditional resistance to the idea of describing personcentred ways of working with different client groups. This is because, ideally, person-centred therapists should have exactly the same way of being in response to any client no matter what brings them to therapy. That is to say, no matter what the client's experience is or how they view themselves and the world, the person-centred therapist is charged with responding nondirectively and in such a way as to offer the therapist-provided conditions of congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding. That is to say that person-centred therapists take their direction from their clients, work at their clients' pace and in accordance with their clients' ways of being. Nothing more is necessary and, indeed, it is argued that to introduce more may be counter-therapeutic. It is the quality of attention that is important not expert, theoretical knowledge of the client's situation, life experience or reactions to life events. As Bozarth (1998: 100) puts it, `contamination occurs when therapists assume they know what is best for clients, what is wrong with clients or in what direction clients should go'. At the very least such knowledge brings the danger of distraction from the client's actual experienced process (see my story in Point 67) and the valuing of the model in the therapist's head over what the client is actually experiencing. Also, clients are whole people with a range of emotions, thoughts and reactions. Nobody is (for example) just a user of drugs or alcohol, nobody is just a survivor of abuse, no one experiences bereavement and only that. To put knowledge of such reactions to life events at the forefront of practice or to treat different clients differently because of what has happened to them (rather than because of whom they are and their way of being in the world) is a mistake.