Q: What would be helpful in Client-Centred Therapy for a directee?
A: Client-centred therapy aims to avoid placing the therapist in an authoritative stance, hoping instead to achieve actualization within the client by nurturing what is “real” in his or her feeling-life. Theoretically, then, the organismic self is one's authentic self, operating at both the universal and individualistic level. Every person's viewpoint is valid as being the product of his or her experiences and internal structure.
Spiritual direction might gain from this approach in several ways. There is a strong intersection at the conceptual level between the Rogerian affirmation of the inner self and the biblical doctrine of the Christ within. By helping the client or the directee to get in touch with this “inner voice”, the therapist or the director enables the other to access personal resources as a means to wholeness, thus bypassing the introduction of any value-system which might be imposed from without.
The search for authenticity coincides with the doctrine of “one body, many parts”; all are individuals, all are unique, all are validated. The need to homogenize all neurotic experience as, for example, sexual frustration, is bypassed, as is the necessity of nurturing the shadow-self.
The therapist is encouraged to express genuine feelings, too, as an example to the client. In direction, this might be translated into the director's simultaneously pursuing his or her own relationship with the inner Christ in addition to nurturing the same in the directee. By keeping a prayerful attitude the director will become sensitive to key elements in the directee's own repertoire of spiritual experiences. The moments of most profound joy and ecstasy are grounded in communication with the divine, thus classifying them as genuine Rogerian feelings.
The overlap with Christian ideals is evident in the following directive for the client-centred therapist: “The valuing process is understood to move toward goodwill, positive regard, understanding, love and fellow-feeling...” (Barton, 182). This approach bypasses any judgmental attitude or authoritarian structure, bringing the therapist to the level of a servant. This sits well with the approach given in spiritual direction, as the director serves to foster a dialogue between the directee and the Lord, not between his or her own beliefs and the directee's unformed or neurotic self.
The valuation of feelings is further enhanced through mirroring. Empathy with the directee will encourage him or her to explore their deeper feelings in greater depth- “laugh with those who laugh, cry with those who cry” (Rom. 12:15).