“If therapy has been successful, clients will also have learned how to be their own therapist”
16 August, 2010
Posted by on
The title of this post is a quote from Brian Thorne in chapter 3 of Person-centred Counselling: Therapeutic and Spiritual Dimensions (Counselling & Psychotherapy Series). “If therapy has been successful, clients will also have learned how to be their own therapist” – note the word also in the sentence. This is not the only way to determine if therapy is successful, as only the client can really know that. It seems to me though one of the key aspects of good therapy or counselling. Surely, the aim is to help the client help themselves, both in their now and for their future. To create a dependency on the therapist, either deliberately or otherwise would be cruel.
The paragraph continues: “It seems that when people experience the genuineness of another and a real attentive caring and valuing by that other person, they begin to adopt the same attitude toward themselves. In short, a person who is cared for begins to feel at a deep level that perhaps she is after all worth caring for. In a similar way, the experience of being on the receiving end of the concentrated listening and the empathic understanding, which characterises the therapist’s response, tends to develop a listening attitude in the client towards herself. It is as if she gradually becomes less afraid to get in touch with what is going on inside her and dares to listen attentively to her own feelings. With this growing attentiveness, there comes increased self-understanding and a tentative grasp of some of her most central personal meanings. Many clients have told me that, after person-centred therapy, they never lost this ability to treat themselves with respect and to take the risk of listening to what they are experiencing.”
It seems we are not talking of any particular tool or method being taught the client, but the at the change comes out of the relationship with the counsellor or therapist and the relationship the client develops with themselves. This is not to say there may be times when a particular tool or method should not be taught. As Brian also says, in the same chapter: “I suspect that clients who are in the grips of behaviour disorders, such as phobias or obsessive compulsive neuroses, are unlikely to be much helped by person-centred therapy unless, that is, they conceptualise their difficulties as being an outcome of their way of being i n the world. If, as is often the case, they view their disorder as a disability to be cured, then they are more likely to be rewarded by a visit to the nearest behavioural therapist.”