John M. Shlien 

Harvard University

"Transference" is a fiction, invented and maintained by the therapist to protect himself from the consequences of his own behavior. 

(in Wyatt, G. (ed) Congruence: Rogers’ Therapeutic Conditions - published by PCCS Books, 2001)
Ivan Ellingham

Abstract.  The principal purpose of this paper is to illumine the extent to which Carl Rogers’ characterization of the central person-centred concept of ‘congruence’ is couched in terms of a Cartesian-Newtonian, paradigmatic world-view mediated by the theoretical formulations of Sigmund Freud. Crucial problems in such a quasi-Freudian characterization of ‘congruence’ are delineated demonstrative of a critical flaw in person-centred theory as a whole:  its being a mix of concepts deriving from the discrepant Cartesian-Newtonian and ‘organismic’ scientific paradigms. The re-formulation of ‘congruence’ in organismic terms is envisaged as part of a general need to conceptualize all key person-centred concepts in such a fashion.

Ivan Ellingham

Jacob set out from Beersheba and went on his way to Harran. He came to a certain place and stopped there for the night, because the sun had set; and, taking one of the stones there, he made it a pillow for his head and lay down to sleep. He dreamt he saw a ladder, which rested on the ground with its top reaching to heaven, and angels of God were going up and down on it. (Genesis, 28: 11-12)

What will it take to generate a bona fide science of psychology?

The view I hold is that such a science will only come about through the construction of a unitary pattern of ideas—a "paradigm,” to use Thomas Kuhn’s term; a "metanarrative” to employ postmodernist discourse—whereby we will be able to integrate into a seamless web the empirical findings and theoretical contributions of contemporary psychology’s smorgasbord of rival and competing conceptual approaches. "What we need for a science of mind,” as Susanne Langer (1967) has written,  "is not so much a definitive concept of mind, as a conceptual frame in which to lodge our observations of mental phenomena” (p. 17).

Jerold D. Bozarth & Barbara Temaner Brodley

This paper reviews CarI R. Rogers' concept of the actualizing tendency as an operational premise in client-centered therapy. Rogers' view of actualization is clarified including the relationship of the concept to Rogers' speculations about the "fully functioning person." The function of the actualizing concept in therapy is demonstrated by reviewing segments of a therapy session. The client-centered therapist implements the actualizing tendency by creating a specific interpersonal climate during the therapy session. This climate is created by means of the therapist experiencing and communicating certain attitudes toward the client. These attitudes are identified as congruency, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding. Rather than intervening and thereby assuming therapeutic expertise about the client, the client- centered therapist trusts the client to move forward in a constructive direction. The constructive forward movement of the client is propelled by the sole and inherent motivation in human beings; that is, the actualizing tendency.

John Keith Wood. Estância Jatobá 13820 Jaguariúna, Brazil

The claims that Carl Rogers was what is presently understood as a "transpersonal psychologist" or that he had converted to a "transpersonal movement" by virtue of various late-in-life experiences are shown to be unwarranted.

To understand his complex relationship with these subjects, it is noted that Rogers did not conform with much of the behavior with which they are associated. Nevertheless, he did have, from the beginning of his work in client-centered therapy, experiences which must be considered congenial with the essence of the "transpersonal."

The purpose of this article is to recognize the distinction between outward appearance and one's legitimate inner inner experience and to encourage a deeper exploration of this difference. Click here

Edwin Kahn. The City University of New York.

I like Ed's direct, clear, well expressed contrast between Frued's "blank screen" and Rogers trusting his clients wisdom.

Julius Seeman

George Peabody College for Teachers

Julius Seeman. 

Check the date, 1951! This is before Carl Rogers was calling them the "core conditions", but they are all here.

Barbara Temaner Brodley, Ph.D. ISPP - Chicago. USA  

Marjorie Witty, Ph.D. 

Illinois School of Professional Psychology - A division of Argosy University.

This  paper was written as a stimulus for a dialogue between Mary Hendricks, Ph.D. and myself at the British Association for the Person-centered Approach (BAPCA) conference held in Durham, UK in September, 2002.  Proponents of client-centered and experiential therapies were asked to delineate issues of agreement and disagreement between the two approaches.

Ivan Ellingham

Psychology Department,

Hertfordshire Partnership National Health Trust (UK)


Abstract: This paper presents a critical examination from a person-centred perspective of an approach to counselling influenced by the social constructionist thought of Kenneth Gergen. The general postmodernist character of such social constructionism is considered and critiqued; as are certain implications for counsellor training and practice. Caution is urged on those who would introduce social constructionist ideas into the framework of person-centred thought: that it be done in a way that does not compromise the fundamental vision of Carl Rogers, its main architect.

Ivan Ellingham

Wonderful and good

In Internet discussion, two pillars of the person-centred approach recently pronounced ‘The Client-Centred Therapist in Psychiatric Contexts’ by Lisbeth Sommerbeck (2003a), ‘wonderful’ (Jerrold Bozarth), and a ‘clearly and beautifully written’ book that should be read by ‘anyone working in a medical or psychiatric context’ or ‘anyone working with seriously disturbed clients outside these setting’   (C. H. ‘Pat’ Patterson).

There was also a further positive endorsement which (rather unusually) came from Lisbeth Sommerbeck herself. Lisbeth records that having the book in her hands for the first time and reading ‘a little of it’, she thought it ‘a good book’, albeit that she ‘found some points that I think the author could have clarified better, and even some points that I, perhaps, disagree with, or may come to disagree with, although, for the moment…, I find myself in as close agreement with the author as it, I think, is humanly possible’ (2003b:1).

Lisbeth Sommerbeck (This is the author's to criticism of her book by Ivan Ellingham.)


In Ivan’s review (Ellingham, 2003) of the book I have written (Sommerbeck, 2003) Ivan offers a
series of critical reflections on the book. (Like Ivan does, I’ll use our first names, since we know
each other personally.) In this response I’ll address those points of his reflections that are most
important for me to discuss, pointing out where I disagree with Ivan and where I may not have
expressed myself sufficiently clearly, with the consequence that my point of view has been
misunderstood by Ivan and may be misunderstood by other readers of the book.

Steve Vincent.

Southampton College (UK)

We often speak of client-centred therapy and the person-centred approach being ‘humanistic’. What is ‘humanism’?

Ivan Ellingham

A Bare-Faced Proposition

            In a 1995 article I had the ‘bare-faced’ effrontery to propose that ‘it is the person-centred framework of thought...that is set to provide a more adequate base on which to ground a paradigm for the field of counselling/psychotherapy’. I am not alone in holding such a view. After I had made the same proposal in an earlier paper, Brian Thorne wrote: ‘With Ellingham I happen to believe that it is the person-centred approach engendered by Carl Rogers...which has the potential to be developed into a paradigm for the field [of counselling/psychotherapy] as a whole’

Ivan Ellingham

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust. (UK)

The mystic, endowed with natural talent for this sort of thing and following stage by stage the instruction of the master enters the waters and finds he [sic.] can swim; whereas the schizophrenic [sic.], unprepared, unguided, and ungifted, has fallen or has intentionally plunged, and is drowning.

Joseph Campbell

Ivan Ellingham.

In ‘Person-centred porridge’,  (also on this site) an earlier contribution to this journal (Ellingham, 1998), I made reference to the ‘porridge’ of ideas known as postmodernism. I passed comment on how, in my view, several counsellor educators associated with the person-centred approach, Hazel Johns, John McLeod and Pete Sanders, in their writings on counselling ‘gobble up too much of the postmodernist agenda’ (p. 111). What I had to say prompted a vigorous critical reaction from Sanders (Sanders, 1999), not least over my failing—for which I have since apologised—to explain my critique of his own work, First Steps in Counselling (1996), ‘or elaborate with examples’ (Sanders, 1999, p. 49).

Ivan Ellingham

Within the field of counselling/psychotherapy, certain authors with varying degrees of allegiance to the person-centred approach show signs of having over-indulged in the avant-garde porridge of ideas known as ‘postmodernism’. Individuals I have in mind in this regard are Hazel Johns (1996), John McLeod (1993) and Pete Sanders (1996). Here I am not going to attempt to explicate in any great detail what is meant by postmodernism, nor am I going to point up exactly where and how counsellor educators Johns, McLeod and Sanders gobble up too much of the postmodernist agenda--I pass on such a task as an opportunity for discovery learning. Rather my aim is simply to encourage those associated with the person-centred approach to become conversant with postmodernist ideas and to develop a critical--not an unconditionally positive--regard for them.

Also see On Transcending Person-Centred Postmodernist Porridge

Barry Grant. Chicago, Illinois

Nondirectiveness is a focal point in the debate about the nature of person-centered and client-centered therapy. In my view, the debate is essentially about the morally best way of doing therapy. Conceptions of nondirectiveness differ primarily in whether they emphasize pragmatic concerns for promoting growth and "meeting needs" or respect for persons. Two conceptions of nondirectiveness — instrumental and principled — are described and compared. Principled nondirectiveness is elaborated, and a justification for it is sketched.

Barry Grant is a part-time psychotherapist and college instructor. His first psychotherapy class was in client-centered therapy, which at the time seemed to him to be on to something important, but simplistic and unexciting. Later, upon reflection, and the (nondirective) influence of Barbara Brodley and Marjorie Witty, he came to see some of the depth of its simplicity.

Nat' Raskin. 

University of Chicago Orignally published in the Journal of Consulting Psychology, 1948.

Jere Moorman

Center for Studies of the Person. California. USA.

Ivan Ellingham

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust (UK)

North Hertfordshire College

The Nature of Mysticism

            Mysticism is a term used with reference to certain out-of-the-ordinary human experiences, experiences of a powerful nature belonging to that category of human experience that we label ‘spiritual’. Mystical experiences, that is to say, are powerful versions of experiences in which the individual knows that they, the world and those around them are seamlessly embedded in, and manifestations of, a unitary and ultimate, transcendent cosmic reality, a reality that F. C. Happold describes as ‘a beyond,…something which, though it is interwoven with it, is not of the external world of material phenomena,…an unseen order over and above the seen’ (1970: 18-19)—‘an actuality’, as Evelyn Underhill further elucidates, that is ‘beyond the reach of the senses’(1915/2000: 5).

  Ivan Ellingham

                                                Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust (UK)

                                                North Hertfordshire College

            Just as the concept of the earth as flat became trashed to be transcended by the concept of it as a sphere; just as Newton’s concept of gravity became trashed to be transcended by Einstein’s concept of curved space; so the psychodynamic concept of transference has become trashed to be transcended by the concept of the schema.


In this paper I want to present and discuss a verbatim account of a portion of a group therapy session with hospitalized mental patients, during which two patients commented with unusual depth and clarity on their experience of themselves in relation to their illness. The central theme of their comments concerns the cessation of a mental process; a stopping or blocking of the mind that results in an inability to know one's own experience--to feel one's thoughts or think about one's feelings. This process seems relevant to many of the difficulties encountered in psychotherapy especially with schizophrenic persons.