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Person-centered therapy : a pluralistic perspective

Cooper, Mick and McLeod, John (2011) Person-centered therapy : a pluralistic perspective. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 10 (3). pp. 210-223. ISSN 1477-9757

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to articulate a ‘‘pluralistic’’ understanding of what it means to be person-centered. This perspective places particular emphasis on an understanding of clients as unique, nonstandardizable ‘‘othernesses,’’ whose therapeutic wants and needs are likely to be highly heterogeneous and unknowable in advance. Based on this idiographic standpoint, it is argued that a person-centered understanding of therapeutic change necessitates an openness to, and appreciation of, the many different ways in which clients may benefit from therapy – including, but not limited to, established person-centered and experiential (PCE) practices. To translate such pluralistic principles into practice, it is suggested that therapists should specifically orientate their work toward clients’ goals, and enhance their levels of dialogue and metacommunication with clients regarding the goals, tasks and methods of therapy. This pluralistic approach to person-centered therapy holds other perspectives and practices within the PCE community in high regard, as well as other non-PCE therapies; but it does challenge ‘‘dogmatic person-centeredness’’ and encourages PCE practitioners to be aware of the limits of their work. It also provides a coherent, ‘‘client-centered’’ framework through which PCE therapists can incorporate a wide body of practices, research findings and theories into their work.