Carl Rogers, often described as the founding father of person centered therapy (previously known as patient then client centered therapy), identified 3 major factors (or core conditions) that must be present within a therapeutic relationship for it to develop successfully, these are: congruence (also known as genuineness), acceptance (also referred to as Unconditional Positive Regard) and empathy.
Congruence (or genuineness) can be described as “the degree to which we are freely and deeply ourselves, and are able to relate to people in a sincere and non-defensive manner” (Sutton & Stewart, 2008, p27). Carl Rogers believed that this is a fundamental aspect of any therapeutic relationship and that “the more the therapist is himself or herself in the relationship, putting up no professional front or personal façade, the greater is the likelihood that the client will change and grow in a constructive manner” (Rogers, 1980, p115). He went on to say that for this to happen the therapist would openly feel (and express, where appropriate) what is happening within the moment, and make him or herself “transparent” to the client, showing their real feelings. He believed that doing so would not only assist the therapist in being aware of their own experience within the relationship but would also work as an encourager or model for the client, as they bear witness to the therapist being open and transparent, they too are more likely to be the same way. Further to this, he believed that were the practitioner to not be congruent about what they were feeling, such as irritation or boredom etc (if these were persistent), the client would be able to pick up on them anyway and this would have a detrimental effect on the relationship and the client’s progress.
Within a counselling relationship congruence can be displayed in a number of ways, for example, there may be an aspect of a clients behaviour which the therapist feels
References: Dryden. W. &, Mytton. J (1999) Four Approaches to Counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Routledge Hough. M. (2010) Counselling Skills and Theory (3rd ed.). Croydon: Hodder Education Rogers. C, R. (1980) Ways of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Sutton. J. & Stewart. W (2008) Learning to Counsel (3rd ed.). Oxford: How To Books Ltd