So here’s the thing…unconditional positive regard
Rogers says it is ‘…experiencing a warm acceptance of each aspect of the client’s experience as being part of that client’. Standal refined it stating there are ‘no conditions’ of acceptance and no feeling of “I like you only if…” and there is a real emphasis on ‘prizing’ the person.
Now I get all this in theory. If I’m going to be any way effective as a counsellor, I must accept and care about the client in a non-possessive and non-judgmental way. I recognise that this will be easier with some clients than others – I’ve had my fair share of challenging encounters with people I’m trying to work with and I’ve come away with some scars, both physical and emotional. I’ve been trying really hard to offer UPR in all of my dealings with other people and it does get easier with practice but…
There is a person who I find difficult to be around. This is an acquaintance, not a client. My feeling is that the image he wants us to have of him is more important than the feelings of anyone around him. I want to analyse his motives and to challenge the way he communicates and I can feel myself wincing when he speaks about himself, which he does often, loudly and at length (see – already I’m judging) How would I manage if he was my client? What happens if I meet a client who reminds me of him? I know this is the stuff of a nightmare supervision session because I now have to dig in me and find out why I’m not able to prize him and warmly accept his experience and his view of his world. Meeting and dealing with people like this, who push my buttons, make me question whether I’m really cut out to be a counsellor.
It’s been a tough day today. I’ve listened to him do ‘his thing’ for most of the day and find myself with an aching jaw where I’ve clenched my teeth to stop myself telling him to shut the f*ck up. Talk about being genuine – I’ve just smiled and gritted and tried to tune him out. How do other therapists get on with this?