Person- Centred Counselling in Action by Dave Mearns & Brian Thorne, 1988

Topics: Writers, Author, Unconditional positive regard Pages: 5 (1569 words) Published: December 5, 2013
Book Review

Person- Centred Counselling in Action by Dave Mearns & Brian Thorne, 1988 Person-centred counselling originated in 1930’s and 40’s from the work of the American psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers came to believe that as it is the client who is hurting, then ultimately it is the client themselves who holds the answers about how best to move forward. At the time, this approach was a departure from others forms of counselling which relied on clients being advised, guided or somehow influenced on which direction to take. Using the person centred approach, it is the counsellor’s job to help the client connect with their own inner resources enabling them to find their own unique solutions. In this book the authors undertake to explain the theories and principles of person centred counselling by relating them to actual practice. The book is intended as a practical and comprehensive guide for trainee counsellors, those training them and also for established counsellors wishing to familiarise themselves with the person centred approach to counselling. Coming from the standpoint of someone just starting out as a trainee counsellor, the writer was first attracted by the short, snappy title of ‘Person Centred Counselling in Action’. The word ‘action’ hints that the work will not be a dry, difficult to read book concentrating only on the theoretical side of things but the reader will actually get to see how the process works in practice. In this regard, the book did not disappoint. -2-

The main body of the book explores in some depth, the conditions (known as the core conditions) of empathy, acceptance and congruence, which are essential to the practice of the person- centred counsellor. The final three chapters draw on one particular case study showing how the core conditions are used in practice. These final chapters look at the experience from both the counsellor’s and the client’s point of view. The writer found the contents of the book to be written in a logical fashion and in the main uses straight forward language. The writer felt that the down to earth style of writing and avoidance of jargon made the book more accessible than some others of the same genre. Also very helpful is that as new concepts are introduced, examples of the concept being discussed are highlighted in boxes throughout the text. This helped to reinforce the writer’s understanding of ideas that are unfamiliar to her at this stage of her learning. One of the main themes of the book is an in-depth exploration of the three elements that make up what is referred to in person centred literature, as the ‘core conditions’. In the first chapter the book clearly states what these are as follows:

“The creation of a growth producing climate in a therapeutic relationship requires
That the counsellor can:
1. be genuine or congruent
2. offer unconditional positive regard and total acceptance -3-
3. feel and communicate a deep empathic understanding”
While this statement is useful for clarity it is obvious on reading further that these conditions are not easily attained. They take commitment on the part of the counsellor to develop and maintain these attitudes and are so significant, say the authors, that not only do they have profound implications for the counsellor’s professional practice but also for the counsellor’s life as a whole. This thought makes the writer pause and reflect on how powerful the core conditions are and the words ‘life changing’ spring unbidden to mind. Although in practice, the core conditions are inextricably linked, for the purposes of this review the writer has chosen to focus on the book’s exploration of acceptance or ‘unconditional positive regard’. The authors speak of unconditional positive regard as being an attitude held by the counsellor and give the following clear definition:

“Unconditional positive regard is the label given to the fundamental attitude of the person-centred counsellor...
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