Genuineness and Unconditional positive regard are important in the counselling relationship

8 August 2016

Discuss the ways in which counsellor qualities such as Empathy, Genuineness and Unconditional positive regard are important in the counselling relationship. Counselling, also referred to as the ‘talking therapy’, is a process whereby a client is provided with a sufficient amount of time and space to share, understand and resolve his or her problems , in all confidentiality. (Sutton & Stewart, 2008) This process is a two way collaborative exchange and is generally termed as the counselling relationship.

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The counsellor, often described as someone who applies the counselling techniques and qualities learnt, to solve people’s problems and help them plan a better future. (Sutton & Stewart, 2008). A counsellor might either work individually, in pairs or in groups. Counsellor qualities are said to be the basic key ingredients in a counselling relationship, as it helps to promote a healthy relationship between the client and the counsellor. Carl Rogers, founder of the person-centred approach, states that there are three core conditions that are crucial in enhancing a counselling relationship.

(Sutton & Stewart, 2008). These core conditions are empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regard. This essay will further explain the core conditions, and whether it confirms, or disproves the efficiency of the core conditions in a therapeutic alliance. Empathy, being the first condition, is defined as the ability to sense the client’s world, to grasp their frame of reference, and to convey back their understanding to the clients in simple words (Sutton & Stewart, 2008). In other words, it would mainly refer to the ability for the counsellor to place himself into the client’s shoes and step out again.

Empathy is very important in a therapy, as it helps the therapist to aknowledge the clients feelings such as anger, fear or confusion, yet without letting his own feelings arising (Rogers, 1956). In order to fully understand the client, the counsellor has to be self aware (Sutton & Stewart, 2008). A lack in self-awareness can result in a low empathic understanding, whereby the counsellor does not understand the client and henceforth making the client uncomfortable and reluctant to talk (Rogers, 1957). However, Fiedler’s research (3) states that a high level of empathy is required in a therapy,as it makes it easier for the counsellor to understand the client, and does not remain into any kinds of doubts. Moreover, the client feels at ease since he feels understood by the therapist. Rogers (1957) furthermore states that if the correlation between the client and the therapist is high, then it implies the presence of a high accuracy of empathic understanding, otherwise a low correlation would indicate the opposite. The second condition being genuineness, also called congruence is defined as the ability of being real and not putting up no professional front or personal facade (Rogers, 1957).

It also implies whereby the therapist relate to the client in a truthful and non-defensive manner (Sutton & Stewart, 2008). Many research have been done in order to demonstrate that whether congruence is coherent in a counselling relationship or not. There have been studies showing a high correlation with positive outcomes, many showing no correlation and some others showing negative correlation (Klein, Kolden, Michels, & Chisholm-Stockard, 2002: Sachse & Elliott, 2001). According to Kirshenbaum (1979), he mentions that congruence is the most difficult condition to attain as it is said to be the less clearly explained condition by Rogers.

Furthermore, he states that self- disclosure is a factor that might affect the therapist and client relationship. He actually mean that there must be certain type and amount of self-disclosure in a relationship, and too much might prove to be harmful (Olinksky et al. , 1994). A genuine counsellor does not feel under any circumstances to disclose about the relationship, that is give his or her personal opinions or views about the counselling relationship (Sutton & Stewart, 2008).

Finally, the third condition is the unconditional positive regard. Unconditional positive regard is about demonstrating respect and valueing the client as a unique human being (Sutton & Stewart, 2008). It is to accept the client altogether maintaining their dignity and personal worth, and most important is not to judge them. The three therapeutic conditions described above are said to be interelated to each other and have significant importance in a therapeutic relationship (Rogers, 1967).

A high positive outcome is most like to occur when the core conditions are genuinely delivered by the therapist and perceived by the client (Goldfried & Davila, 2005). It has been furthermore argued by Rogers (1951, 1957), that the core conditions are not only essential, but all are sufficient for the therapeutic gains and a constructive personality change (Horvath & Lubosky, 1993). The Rogerian Therapist Offered Condition, also known as TOC, is whereby the therapist follows and applies Rogers core conditions during a therapy.

Many research have been done in order to investigate the effect of the TOC (Horvath & Lubosky, 1993). The initial result showed that therapists who demonstrated a high level of Rogers core conditions were the more successful ones, compared to those who demonstrated a low level were unlikely to be successful (Barrett-Lennard, 1985; Rogers, Gendlin, Kiesler, & Truax, 1967). On the other hand, Hovarth and Luborsky(1993), noted that the TOC and the relative outcome were not uniform across different therapy modalities, hence making variation in the therapeutic outcome also.

Furthermore, research done by LaCrosse(1980) and Strong(1958), stated that there are other factors other than empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regard that can bring a successful and positive therapy outcome. LaCrosse(1980) explores factors such as attractiveness, expertness, and trustworthiness in a relationship. He stated that these qualities can bring out a positive outcome , since the client will actually perceive the therapist as an expert, a trustworthy individual and also attractive.

However, these variables were subsequently used in clinical trials, and unfortunately,at any point it did not match LaCrosse’s criteria. Instead, these factors were considered as being very modest and also inconsistent (Greenberg & Adler, 1989: Horvath, 1981). Because actually, clinical trials would mostly deal with clients which can eventually be referred to as “patients”. They wouldnt actually look for factors that have been described by LaCrosse(1980), but instead would search for warmth and acceptance, and expect his counsellor to communicate to him in a deep and genuine manner.

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