This essay is an attempt to contrast and compare Person Centred Counselling with Grovian therapy. First, I will attempt to lay out the essential assumptions of the two approaches so as to be better able to compare the key aspects of the two models and their implications. It is not my purpose to establish whether one method is better or more successful than the other, but to simply notice differences and similarities in the way therapy is conducted or promoted. Let us start with trying to understand the key theoretical assumptions of the person centred approach.
Person Centred Counselling - Basic concepts
Carl Rogers has placed the emphasis on the client, not the therapist. Transformation is possible because it is assumed that each person has all the resources that he/she needs to grow and change. It is also presupposed that each person is unique and essentially good and that it is because of social circumstances that a person moves away from a balanced inner growth. When the person frees him/herself from the psychological imposition of society, parents, teachers, etc. then that person can learn to explore his/her life and develop from the heart instead of being shaped by exterior forces.
In Carl RogersÂ? theory, a difference is made between what is called the organismic self (i.e. what the person feels, the true centre of instincts and emotions, etc.) and the idea that the person has of what he/she should be. Difficulties occur when a personÂ?s belief about what he/she should be conflicts with the organismic self. If that difference cannot be reconciled, the individual may end up repressing the aspects of his/her personality which he/she feels to be unacceptable. Such a response is likely to happen when conditions of worth are placed upon a person who may then feel that, in order to gain acceptance, he/she has to appear to be what he/she is not. This state is likely to become worse each time a person feels judged and becomes afraid of not being loved.
But since the organismÂ?s goal is to develop fully its potential, any repressed part will attempt to express itself despite the efforts of the person to suppress such aspects. It is this constant battle between the idea the person has of what he/she has to be and the real self (organismic self) which makes it impossible for that person to feel at peace and at ease.
I feel that it is the purpose of the counsellor to create a safe environment where the client is able to explore all aspects of the organismic self as well as all aspects of what that person feels he/she has to be. It is through that exploration work that the client will, hopefully, find a way to become more aware of their organismic self and learn to value their own inner processes.
Because much of the beliefs about what a person feels he/she has to be come from the environment (parents, teachers, friends, society, boss, etc) it is important for the counsellor to be completely respectful of the clientÂ?s right to make his/her own decisions and be him/herself. Without that, the counsellor would only become one more person imposing upon the client his/her own way of thinking and therefore potentially making it more difficult and confusing for the client to value their self. Therefore, in the person centred approach, the relationship between the therapist and the client is in itself therapeutic and a tool for growth. A warm and supportive attitude from the counsellor will help the client feel accepted and thus will facilitate the manifestation of previously repressed aspects so that they may ultimately be re-integrated into the whole of the personality.
In order to achieve this, the counsellor will have to manifest the following core conditions:
"Unconditional positive regard" or U.P.R. which really means that the therapist must show respect and acceptance towards whatever is going on within the client.
"Congruence" which means that the therapist must show that he/she is in touch with his/her organismic self and thus what is being expressed to the client is a direct reflection of the internal feelings and thoughts of the therapist. It implies that the therapist is aware of his/her own inner experience.
"Empathy" which is the ability to experience the other personÂ?s frame of reference. Trying to place oneself in the other personÂ?s shoes. This implies that the therapist is completely aware of the communications given by the client not only at a verbal level, but also through his/her body language, facial expressions, etc.The above core conditions help create a safe setting and a relationship between therapist and client where the client can feel accepted and respected thus becoming better able to explore that which has not been allowed to be. The relationship becomes the healing tool.
Grovian therapy - Basic concepts
In many ways, the underlying principles and concepts of person centred therapy can be found in Grovian therapy, but expressed in a slightly different way. David Grove has spent much time helping people to recover from post traumatic stress disorders and from childhood abuse and the language he uses to describe his type of therapy will reflect that. So, for example, the repressed part becomes a wounded child within which has been frozen in time to avoid going through the traumatic moment(s). The actualising tendency becomes not only the need for the whole person to re-unite with the wounded child and help it find a way past the trauma and into growth but is also the need for each repressed or fragmented aspects to be in the present.
During a perceived trauma, a person enters a hypnotic state as a way of coping with the moment and a fragment of the persona can remains trapped or frozen at that point in time, whilst the rest of the persona continues to grow and develop. The frozen part (or wounded child if the trauma happened in childhood) usually becomes trapped at the last moment of control (T-1) and stops the event from happening. It repeats that moment over and over again so as to stop time and therefore avoid the moment that follows which is the trauma. David Grove explains it in this way: "Stopping things in the environment from doing what they are going to do is the essence and nature of what is happening in T-1"(1). The emotions and feelings contained in T-1 are the symptoms which the client canÂ?t resolve. The role of the therapist is to help the fragment(s) move through time from T-1, through T (trauma) to T+1 (after the trauma).
"The symptoms are unsuccessful attempts at healing"(2) and, although they are experienced by the adult personality, they do not belong to the adult but to the wounded child. Healing will therefore be possible when that child can be accessed and given the help that he/she needs. Access to the wounded child can be made through the symptoms and their translation into metaphors. The first step is to help the client develop metaphors from their feelings and this can happen with the use of "clean language".
Clean language does not presuppose anything. So, for example, a question like "how do your feel?" which implies that the client feels something is changed into "Is there a feeling?" which gives the client the opportunity to check their experience of the symptom. This is important as trauma survivors may not be ready to talk about their feelings. Thus, by using clean language, the choice is given to the client to attend to that experience or not. Clean language is the tool that will allow the client to develop metaphors from their experiences and for those metaphors to transform.
During the course of an intervention, the client will be asked about how he perceives his/her difficulties with questions such as: "And when you have... how do you know you have...?", "Is there a feeling?", "Whereabouts do you have that?", "And is it deep or close to the surface?". "Does it have a size?", "Does it have a shape?", "Does it have a colour?", etcÂ? until the perceived experience is fully developed into a metaphor. So for example, a feeling of anger could be felt in the stomach and develop into a raging volcano (metaphor). Metaphors should be elicited in the same way for every aspects of the experience perceived by the client and plenty of time should be given for the gathering of all the relevant information. This allows for the metaphor to develop in space and for a connection to be made with the experience at "T-1". Then, the metaphor can develop in time so as to approach "T" and move through it to "T+1".
The therapist will therefore attempt to facilitate movement and change in the client by helping the intervention to produce itself. To that effect, the motivation for change must come first from the metaphor itself and second from the client. The therapist should not have any role in suggesting anything. In the example of the volcano, the therapist could ask: "And what would volcano like to have happen?" "And can volcano have that?" "And what would need to happen so that volcano can...?". It is also important to use the same words that the client uses so as not to change the history contained in the experience for the clientÂ?s words contain the experience. To change the words would mean that the history is being altered. It is assumed that the solution to the problem lies within the information contained by the metaphor and that it is by allowing the metaphor to do what it needs to do and to interact with other metaphors that transformation will occur. The interaction of the different aspects of an experience will allow for changes to occur and means that the repetition of a process will not be exactly the same as the original. The coming together of the different fragments or metaphors of a particular experience is a process of healing through transformation.
The metaphor is then developed and matured further until, very often, a younger aspect of the client emerges (wounded child). In that case, the focus of the intervention needs to move to the child who must to be allowed to do what he/she wants to do and to progress toward "T" in his/her own way.
An intervention is complete when all the fragments have transformed and have passed "T".
Comparison & implications
I can find many similarities in the principles adopted by the two therapies. Both respects the needs of the client, although in Grovian therapy, it is almost as if the metaphor becomes the client and its needs are taken into account first. Both therapies acknowledge the fact that the key to the healing process is within the person presenting the problems, not within the therapist and both limit the role of the therapist to that of a facilitator.
My impression of person centred counselling is that it is a process whereby repressed tendencies are allowed to resurface so that they may be examined and given a chance to be re-integrated into the persona. This process is made possible because of the acceptance demonstrated by the counsellor and therefore, through the use of the core conditions, the counsellor utilises the relationship with his/her client to therapeutic ends. In a similar way, the use of clean language to elicit metaphorical representation of a symptom allows for a previously repressed aspect of the personality to be acknowledged and re-integrated. To that effect, the therapist will also need to demonstrate respect and empathy (to be shown in the tone of voice, rate of speech and the fact that the therapist will use the language of the wounded part). The actualising process talked about by Carl Rogers is also present in David GroveÂ?s type of therapy since the fragmented part has to be given the opportunity to develop in its own way and to become what it can be. The potential contained within the symptoms is fully explored and realised through the movement of the metaphor or wounded child from T-1 to T+1.
The difference comes in the application of the principles. In Carl RogersÂ? type of therapy, the therapist offers a naturalistic approach where even the process of therapy is decided by the client, whilst in Grovian therapy, the process is offered by the therapist to the client who will then have the choice in his/her responses to it. In both instances, the therapist will "move" with the client, but in the case of Grovian therapy, that movement is limited within the confines of the use of metaphors and clean language.
But perhaps the main difference is in the importance of congruence in person centred counselling. Because of the fact that, in counselling, the relationship is in itself therapeutic, it is important for the therapist to be him/herself and share experiences and states which may be valuable to the process of therapy. This is not the case in Grovian therapy where the relationship with the therapist, although important, takes a secondary role to the relationship a client has with the fragmented parts of his/herself.
I feel that both type of therapies are complementary and can be used with great benefit in cases where the source of the clientÂ?s problems lies in a past or present experience which canÂ?t be resolved by the person alone. In my experience of using both, I believe that person centred counselling is most suited when the cause of the problem is in the present and a client needs to find new better ways to react. It is also of great value in gently introducing a client to trance work and talking about their fears of the therapy process. I feel that Grovian therapy is especially useful in cases where the symptoms result from past traumas, especially those that have occurred in childhood. It presents a safe way for the client to work through the difficulties without being re-traumatised in the process. This process is also particularly useful when working with symptoms where the causes are unknown or so completely repressed that the original experiences cannot be recalled. Grovian therapy offers a way to work so that the clientÂ?s memory is not going to be "polluted" and changed by the therapist as in the case of false memories. Once completed, Grovian therapy can be followed in a very useful way by counselling so that the client may express their impression of the process and their feelings about the resolution that has occurred.
(1) Page 29 of "In the presence of the past" by David Grove
(2) Page 25 of "In the presence of the past" by David Grove
"Person-Centred Counselling in Action" by Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne Sage Publications Ltd - ISBN 0 8039 8050 7
"Client Centred Therapy" by Carl R Rogers Constable and Company Limited Â? ISBN 0 09 453990 1
"The Psychotherapy of Mind-Body Healing" by Ernest Lawrence Rossi W.W. Norton & Company Inc. Â? ISBN 0 393 70168 9
"The Answer Within: A clinical Framework of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy" by Stephen R Lankton & Carol H. Lankton Brunner/Mazel Â? ISBN 0 87630 320 3
"When Living Hurts, Directive for Treating Depression" by Michael D Yapko Brunner/Mazel Â? ISBN 0 87630 485 4
"Rewriting the Soul, Multiple Personality and the Science of Memory" by Ian Hacking Princeton University Press Â? ISBN 0 691 03642 X
"Core Transformation, Reaching the Wellspring Within" by Connirae Andreas & Tamara Andreas Real People Press Â? ISBN 0 91226 32 X
"Reframing, Neuro-Linguistic-Programming and the Transformation of Meaning" By Richard Bandler & John Grinder Real People Press Â? ISBN 0 911266 25 7
"Dissociation Experiences, Trauma & Hypnosis" by Johan Vanderlinden Eburan Delft Â? ISBN 90 5166 343 9
"The Inner World of Choice" by Frances G Wickes Coventure Ltd Â? ISBN 0 904576 66 3
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