As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

“If therapy has been successful, clients will also have learned how to be their own therapist”

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.”


5 responses to ““If therapy has been successful, clients will also have learned how to be their own therapist”

  1. Lucifa 16 August, 2010 at 15:51


    Interesting post. But I feel it is contradictory at times. For example, you say that to ‘create’ dependency would be cruel. But then you talk about the genuine care and attentive listening a client receives. those are care giving actions which foster attachment/dependency. It is normal healhthy human behaviour. I think it is vital to understand that for some clients [dare i say MANY!] the counsellor might be the very first person in their lives who actually genuinly listens and is interested them. THAT alone can ‘create’ dependency in the client. So on one hand you give the client what s/he so desperately needs but then I hear you say ‘but do not get dependend on me!’
    I feel it is natural for the client to become dependend on the counsellor. After all the counslelor sets up the stage for that dependency [by offering empathy, UPR etc] and if a client has early attachment issues with a/or both parents the counsellor will then be experienced as mother or father via the transference. It is inevetable. So instead of saying ‘dependecy is cruel’ [by the way, interesting you use the word cruel] the counsellor mustnt be afraid of it. But if the counsellor is not able to work with the dependency [towards a healthy independence] then of course, I can understand the fear in the counsellor. I am not sure how person centered counsellor deal with the dependency in the transferiantel relationship so would be interested to hear about that, or maybe you could write a post about it?
    In psychodynamic, esp. psychoanalytic therapy, the clients dependency [which isnt created [on purpose] but allowed and welcome] is worked through.
    I remember my last therapist who i was with for 3 years, who was person centered, became scared of me and my dependncy/attachment and told me after 3 years to leave. thankfully I have now found a psychoanalytic therapist who is not afraid of my needs, feelings and fantasies. Therapy should be a place where ALL feelings are welcome. Not just those the counsellor agrees with.

    However I do agree with you that dependcy, or attachment can feel very cruel at times. But it is not created. Attachment is a very healthy reaction towards the care giver. Who is, in the transferiantl relationship, the counsellor, whether s/he likes it or not 😉


  2. Neil 17 August, 2010 at 13:26

    Hi M,

    Have read and reread your comments. I feel very much agreement in what you write. Perhaps my posts are not always clearly written and thought through 🙂 Certainly dependency will be created through the relationship, as you say this may be the first time someone has sat and been with the client – they are being accepted, listened to, etc. for the first time. So yes, there will be a dependency but the as you say this needs to be worked with towards a healthy independence.

    As for the counsellor who became scared of you, due to the attachment / dependency I’m not sure I would actually fear that. Maybe there would be some concern? I suspect in a similar situation I’d be asking myself whether either I had or the client had got stuck? Absolutely agree that therapy should be where ALL feelings are welcome, not just those the counsellor agrees with. Acceptance must be unconditional, so includes all the client offers. I’ll look at writing a more detailed post about person-centred dependency later.

    Again, appreciate your comments.

  3. Lucifa 20 August, 2010 at 12:52

    Am really looking forward to reading your post about dependency in the PC approach. 🙂
    Thank you for taking the time x

    • Neil 20 August, 2010 at 22:40

      It may not be that soon. Have a report to write before the new term starts, plus other books to read. Some of my posts are personal ramblings, but feel a post of that nature shouldn’t be rushed. So, please be patient 🙂

  4. Pingback: Counselling Portfolio finally submitted … « As It Is or As I Am – the life & times of a trainee counsellor

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