A person-centred therapist

After this the focus will be on the transpersonal dimension. I will briefly go through the techniques used at this stage of work. There is inner dialogue, which aids in addressing the clients existential difficulties and meditation, which “…can contribute to mental development, a clearer sense of identity and transpersonal exploration.” (Whitmore, 1991,pp141-y), in psychosynthesis counselling, meditation is defined as inner action.

So what would be the successful outcome of transpersonal work? “…an expanded sense of identity, an increased acceptance of all life experiences, an integration between inner and outer worlds, a revelation of meaning and the discovery of purpose.” (Whitmore, 1991,pp155-z). It is wise; I feel to mention that transpersonal experiences can take place at any time during the course of counselling and the techniques can also be used throughout. This then leads to the final phase of counselling.

Psychosynthesis believes that there is no real end point to be reached, much like the PCA, and it also recognises that it is a continuing process, again this is similar. Although the counsellor in psychosynthesis will determine if the final phase has been reached by, looking at a few questions. Has the client’s presenting issues been adequately resolved? Has the client achieved what he/she wanted? And the time that would be chosen to end the counselling, is when the needs presented by the client have been fulfilled, relatively so! This will involve the following; issues that are incomplete and unresolved for the client, the client’s future direction in life, a final assessment of counselling and the separation and parting from the counsellor.

I have already mentioned a few similarities and differences and I will now explore these a little further. There are similarities in that, there is a focus on building the therapeutic relationship, or making psychological contact and building trust, and I think it’s important to say here that the PCA belief is that”…the relationship is the therapy” (Mearns and Thorne, 2000,pp85-a). Also I feel it is appropriate to mention that new developments by Dave Mearns, have recognised ‘configurations of self’, which can be likened to the subpersonalities, although there are no techniques to working with them and they are not actively searched for in the counselling relationship. For me, the biggest difference is the fact there are no techniques used in the person centred approach, as they are seen as unnecessary.

In the PCA, Rogers held the belief that there are six necessary and conditions which, “…if present in a relationship would result in constructive personality change.” (Merry, 1999,pp49-c). So I would say that this makes the PCA a lot less complicated and easier to understand than Psychosynthesis, which, I feel, is wrapped up in too many different layers. I can not emphasis enough the importance of the core conditions in the person-centred counselling relationship, and the impact that they have. “To be with a person who is unconditionally accepting, empathically attuned and in touch with his or her own flow of experience is the gift received by the client of a person-centred therapist.” (Mearns and Thorne, 2000,pp88-b).

But I have to say that when referring to the core conditions the PCA is not talking about techniques that are used in counselling, they are a set of values and attitudes that are held by the counsellor, “Sadly those who falsely conceptualise the core conditions as techniques to be deployed are perhaps the most culpable deceivers, for their shallowness leads to a prostitution of a life-enhancing gift.” (Mearns and Thorne, 2000,pp88-c).

I think that there is another major and important difference and this is that the PCA, is non-directive, to the point that it was once called non-directive counselling. This means that the client is seen “…as the ‘expert’ in his or life, and the counsellor is intent only on creating the kind of relationship in which this expertise can be expressed.” (Merry, 1999,pp90-d). The client chooses their own path, and the counsellor does not control the process. In contrast, psychosynthesis, seems quite directive to me, although it does claim that the client has control of their process and can direct the counselling journey, I feel that this is somehow a contradiction.

Relational depth is something that is present in the person centred counselling relationship that is not a part of the psychosynthesis relationship. I think it is fair to mention that they both use mirroring, paraphrasing and reflection. At this point although I could carry on, I am aware that I have word limit to adhere to, so I shall move on to the topic of culture and diversity. Both the approaches that I have researched were developed in the western world, by ‘white people’, and perhaps at the time they were developed, for white people. This could possibly make the approaches foreign to people and seen as not being for them.

From the books I have read there isn’t much written in terms of culture, so maybe this could be seen as unwillingness to include other cultures? In my culture and family, I would not sit in front of an older member of my family and make eye contact with them for a length of time, as this would seem disrespectful, although this is encouraged in a counselling relationship, to show availability. There is also the gender issue, which is not addressed fully, I feel, some cultures would be aware that it is not respectful to sit alone in a room with a man if you are a woman.

In some cultures and this is quite widespread, I feel, men are seen to be weak if they talk about feelings, there is a sense of pride, that would be lost if they were to admit to wanting to talk about their problems. I feel that the very fact that the group at college is so diverse shows things are moving on and counselling is becoming more widespread through different cultures. I can only imagine what the future holds for the approaches. Maybe there will be a point where there is input from people from different backgrounds and this may bring a different dimension to the field.

I found psychosynthesis, a challenging approach to research as there are many different perspectives, from a lot of different people. There is so much influence from so many different fields I am wondering how strong the theory would be if all of this were to be removed, what would be left? I have to say I found it daunting as an approach and I may be biased but, to me, the person-centred approach seems a lot more simple, yet effective. I think there is too much structure and I am unsure that the approach fits into any one force of psychology, I find it hypocritical and contradictory that it is classed as humanistic yet there is, what I experienced as quite a lot of direction from the therapist. How does this portray, value and trust in the client?

Assagioli, said “the limit of psychosynthesisis is that it has no limits.” (http:two.not2.org/psychosynthesis/articles/model.htm), I feel this is true as psychosynthesis, seems adaptable and open to interpretation. Yet I am questioning how effective it is as an approach and wondering if it would be better used not as a theory in itself, but alongside another approach. I must say that I am relieved I no longer have to pretend to be interested in psychosynthesis. It became a struggle to digest the approach and I was never fully into it, and I was balancing on the edge the whole time. It has aided my understanding of the PCA, if nothing else and I have a much greater appreciation of it now than I did previously. Some of the questioning I was doing, about the person centred ‘way of being’ have been answered through this journey, I feel that I will take something positive from the experience.

I am aware that with other things going on in my life, it’s difficult for me to do work such as this, as my understanding and perceptions change, along with my emotion, and I do feel that the pressure of fulfilling criteria, took the enjoyment out of the essay for me, as it became something I had to do, as oppose to something I wanted to do. But yet it is done and the relief is immense!

The aim of this essay is to evaluate psychosynthesis within its theoretical context and examine a therapeutic relationship within its framework. I will also be discriminating between the person-centred approach (PCA) and psychosynthesis and comparing and contrasting the two approaches. …

Subsequently there now appears to be a lot more assessment and diagnoses happening. This could be primarily because of external pressures which are ultimately financial. Both the NHS and insurance companies demand diagnoses of pathology in order to approve (pay …

In the transpersonal dimension, through connecting with our ‘higher’ self, we also find unity, which according to psychosynthesis is a yearning we all have. “Without the experience of unity, life is liable to become increasingly fragmented and meaningless.” (Whitmore, 1991,pp12-k). Transpersonal …

The history of psychology dates back to ancient times, for instance, in ~400BC Hippocrates looked at the link between body and personality, his theory being that body type determined the personality. In later years Aristotle (~350BC) focused on the relationship …

David from Healtheappointments:

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