The concept of core conditions is inextricably linked to the early work of Rogers (1957). The terminology has since evolved but the fundamental principle of the concept of core conditions remains essentially unchanged. The original strong version of the model holds that core conditions are necessary and sufficient for clients to experience therapeutic change. Later post modern or sophisticated versions of Person Centred counselling posit that the conditions are foundations for change and adds other broader requirements (Rennie 1998). The original shortlist of core conditions has been considerably expanded (Carkhuff 1969):
- Unconditional positive regard
- Empathic understanding
- Genuineness and congruence
- Self disclosure
- Cultural awareness
I agree with Thorne (1991) that tenderness is as important a core condition as any, and something I aim towards in my own educational practice.
Creating trust in the helping relationship is a fundamental tenet of all Person Centred therapy and safe learning.
In the therapeutic setting, not only must the client learn to trust the counsellor, but also the counsellor must trust that the client is the best person to set their own goals and access their own resources to achieve them. The problem is, however, that people often come to counselling because they are thwarted in their capacity to identify or reach their own goals (Haley 1976).
Rather than being a passive “listening post”, then, the counsellor must strive to actively listen, actively engaging mind to compare what is being revealed to previous disclosures. Clients in turn use the process to try to make sense of their experience.
Egan (1994) distinguishes primary and advanced empathy. Primary empathy is said to depend on counsellors attending, listening and communicating back their understanding of the clients position as experienced by the client. Advanced empathy, however, also incorporates self-disclosure, directiveness and interpretations. The sophisticated version thus gives a more active role to the counsellors processing and implicit use of a theoretical framework rather than relying on purely experiential nature of the counselling encounter as the main source for the validation of material presented by the client.
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