Dr Greg Mulhauser’s Practice Philosophy

I believe that most people, most of the time, already have within themselves most of the resources they need for living happy and effective lives — but circumstances sometimes make it hard to make good use of these resources.

Human Living and the Role of Counselling and Therapy

I believe that most people, most of the time, already have within themselves most of the resources they need for living happy and effective lives. However, sometimes circumstances — external as well as internal — can make it hard to make the most of these resources.

That is where many people find a counselling or psychotherapy relationship helpful. I aim to provide an environment where clients can explore whatever they need to explore, where they can think the unthinkable, feel the unbearable — and know that there is someone else nearby, a companion who will join them in the experience with understanding and patience, but without judging them. I describe something of what this is like on the page on What to Expect?.

The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe. Together with the extended nervous system, this makes human beings astonishingly complex, creative, adaptable and inspiring creatures. No one can sensibly claim to have a good grasp of how it all fits together, but somehow it does, and I find it exciting to work alongside my clients as they undertake their own versions of the journeys I myself make — journeys toward living the kinds of lives we want to live.

My Approach and Theoretical Orientation

Having trained in the person-centred approach to counselling and psychotherapy, I count myself as working primarily within the person-centred approach. However, my beliefs about the therapeutic process also place me very much at the pragmatic, rather than the purist, end of the person-centred spectrum. Within the boundaries of my competence, I do my best to adapt to individual clients and to the ways of working which they believe are most effective for them. Perhaps more to the point, I draw on my own experience to interact with clients in ways which person-centred purists might dispute as being ‘contaminated’ by ideas from outside the person-centred field. (I prefer the view that other therapeutic traditions inform, but do not replace, my person-centred practice.)

For instance, I sometimes work more cognitively with clients who choose to do so, drawing on my understanding of the cognitive or cognitive behavioural approach and my experience with cognitive theory. This means I may help clients explore relationships between their thoughts and feelings, and the ways in which their thoughts may be self-defeating or self-enhancing. We might explore ways in which thoughts which don’t accurately reflect reality can lead to emotions which are less than satisfactory to the client. With some hard work, clients have sometimes made significant changes in the way they approach problem areas by working this way. Significantly, when I work with clients in this way, I am drawing on my own experience and education and doing what comes naturally, not ‘diagnosing’ a client and then imposing my view of what will work for them.

I also may work existentially with clients who are particularly interested in clarifying or creating personal meaning in their lives. We might discuss questions about what is important to clients, what values they hold, and how different areas of their life balance (or don’t balance) one another. Some clients working this way have reported real breakthroughs in clarifying their own path in life — not because I have told them what that path should be, but because I have helped create an environment in which they can find it for themselves. Once again, this is not for me a matter of ‘diagnosing’ clients as ‘needing’ existential therapy, but a matter of drawing on my own experience in professional philosophy and my own life-long interest in the meaning of existence.

The Person-Centred Core of My Work

Having said what I do that some people may view as less person-centred, I’d like to describe briefly the three core conditions which do characterize my work. (A longer article on Person-Centred Counselling appears at CounsellingResource.com.)

Empathy

Being empathic means attempting to grasp the experience of another person from their point of view. I don’t just try to understand your experience as if I were having that experience — I try to understand it as if I were you having that experience.

Some clients report that it is specifically when they feel their counsellor or therapist really understands that they feel the most able to express who they really are, and to accept who they really are.

Unconditional Positive Regard

And that brings us to acceptance, which is the shorter way of saying ‘unconditional positive regard’. This somewhat cumbersome phrase, sometimes abbreviated ‘UPR’, means recognizing and appreciating the inherent value of a human being, without conditions and whether or not we like or dislike that person’s ideas or behaviours or feelings.

I prize human beings as truly remarkable creatures, worthy of respect and acceptance whatever their circumstances, however vehemently I might disagree with some of them!

Congruence

Finally, being congruent means sharing appropriate reactions and responses with the client, rather than hiding those reactions behind a professional facade. I aim to be open and honest with my clients, so there is no doubt in my client’s mind about what I’m ‘really like’. Being congruent also means that if a client has a question about the counselling process, they can ask me and expect an honest reply.

My View of Empirical Research

My practice philosopy is informed by my own clinical experience, my grasp of counselling theory, and empirical evidence about what is effective in counselling and psychotherapy. My site CounsellingBooks.com has an Annotated Bibliography which includes a selection of research evidence on effectiveness and efficacy in counselling and psychotherapy, and I highly value the contribution made by new developments in this area.

Ironically, the founder of the person-centred approach, the US psychologist Dr Carl Rogers, pioneered research in psychotherapy, but many modern-day proponents of the person-centred approach are either ambivalent about clinical research or even hostile to the very idea. I believe that I have nothing to fear from scientific research and everything to gain in terms of delivering a better service to my clients.

This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser on .

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