The non-directive attitude

Stephen, Susan; Di Malta, Gina and Cooper, Mick and O'Hara, Maureen and Gololob, Yana and Stephen, Susan, eds. (2024) The non-directive attitude. In: The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781350439863 (In Press) (

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Non-directivity is fundamental to person-centred practice: an attitude held by the therapist from which they trust and relate to their client as a person with agency, autonomy, and the capacity to grow in response to their own unique experience in the world. It is not characterised by a set of behaviours, although it may be most typically expressed (and recognised) in the form of empathic understanding responses. The therapist’s non-directive attitude stimulates an active, relational experience between client and therapist. The therapist strives to be as open as possible to their own and their client’s experience within the relationship, sensitively responding moment by moment to what is occurring and developing between them. This requires the therapist to commit to ongoing personal development to maintain and grow their capacity for this way of working.