The sixth in our occasional series of person-centred fundamentals.
‘Why is congruence important?
Like empathy and unconditional positive regard, congruence makes it easier for the client to trust the counsellor and the counselling process. If the client accepts the congruence of the counsellor then he will know that the response he gets from her can be accepted as open and honest. He knows that the counsellor is not concerned with manipulating him and consequently he can feel more free in their relationship. One counsellor in training used a phrase which captures this ingredient. In writing about the importance of the counsellor’s congruence she observed that: ‘being present gives presence to the other’ (McDermott, 1986). In the person-centred approach congruence dissolves the mysteriousness of the counsellor. Mystery evokes the illusion of power; transparency dissolves it. Trust can exist in relationships where the counsellor is mysterious and hidden, but it is very much the kind of trust one would have of a being who is regarded as superior. In the person-centred approach the aim is to establish an egalitarian relationship where the counsellor earns trust rather than commands it through mystery and superiority. The trust which the congruent counsellor earns is that of a person who is willing to be fully present as a real, alive, relating human being who is not concealing.’
Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne: Person-Centred Counselling in Action
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994