Understanding congruence in person-centred counselling practice: A trainee counsellor’s perspective

Natri Sutanti, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom


Congruence is a condition in therapeutic relationship that refers to accurate matching of a person’s experience with awareness. In person-centred counselling, counsellor’s congruence is believed as one of helpful and significant aspects that facilitates clients’ growth in counselling. However, this term is quite difficult to understand as a single condition as it interrelated to the other conditions such as empathy and unconditional positive regard. Understanding congruence theoretically and practically is intriguing as well as challenging especially for a trainee counsellor that is still learning to apply theory on practice. This paper aims to critically explore congruence from person-centred counselling theory and to demonstrate some evidences of the development of congruence in practice based on the author’s counselling practice as a trainee counsellor. There are three main discussions in this paper that is to explain congruence from the theoretical point of view, to understand the relation between congruence and acceptance and to explore congruence in person-centred practice. The exploration found that trainee counsellor’s cultural background including condition of worth and language barrier is one of challenges in experiencing congruence within person-centred counselling practice.



congruence, person-centred counselling, unconditional positive regard, ontological standpoint

Full Text:



Atzil-Slonim, D., Bar-Kalifa, E., Fisher, H., Peri, T., Lutz, W., Rubel, J., & Rafaeli, E. (2018). Emotional congruence between clients and therapists and its effect on treatment outcome. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 65(1), pp. 51-64.

Boeree, C. G. (2016). Actualizing Tendency. Retrieved from http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/rogers.html on 28 October 2020 at 09.00 am.

Brodley, B. T. (2011). In therapy. In K. A. Moon, M. Witty, B. Grant, & B. Rice (Eds.), Practicing client-centered therapy. Ross on Wye: PCCS Book.

Cornelius-White, J. H. D. (2013). Congruence. In M. Cooper, M. O’Hara, P. F. Schmid, & A. C. Bohart (Eds.), The handbook of person-centered psychotherapy and counseling. New York, NY: Palgrave.

Elliot, R. & Westwell, G. (2011). Person-centred & experiential psychotherapy scale: Introductory training-version A. (Unpublished).

Frankel, M., Johnson, M. M., & Polak, R. (2016). Congruence: The social contract between a client and therapist. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapy, 15:2, pp. 156-174.

Grafanaki, S. (2002). On becoming congruent: How congruence works in person-centred counselling and practical applications for training and practice. In J. C. Watson, R. N. Goldman & M. S. Warner (eds.), Client-centered and experiential psychotherapy in the 21st century: advances in theory, research, and practice. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books. pp. 278-290

Hoover, S. M. (2011). The Impact of an Experiential Training Program on Group Counsellor Development. Doctoral Dissertation, The University of British Columbia.

Jayne, K. M. (2013). Congruence, Unconditional Positive Regard, and Empathic Understanding in Child-Centered Play Therapy. Doctoral Dissertation, University of North Texas.

Jolley, H. K. (2019). I’m human too: Person-centred counsellors’ lived experiences of therapist self-disclosure. European Journal Qualitative Research in Psychotherapy, 9, pp. 12-26.

Joseph, S. (2017). Authenticity: How to be yourself & why it matters. London: Piatkus.

Kivlighan, D. M., Jr., Kline, K., Gelso, C. J., & Hill, C. E. (2017). Congruence and Discrepancy between Working Alliance and Real Relationship: Variance Decomposition and Response Surface Analyses. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(4), pp. 394-409.

Kolden, G. G., Klein, M., Wang, C., & Austin, S. (2011). Congruence/Genuineness. Psychotherapy, 48, pp. 65–71.

Kolden, G. G., Wang, C.-C., Austin, S. B., Chang, Y., & Klein, M. H. (2018). Congruence/ genuineness: A meta-analysis. Psychotherapy, 55(4), pp. 424–433. https://doi.org/10.1037/pst0000162

Mearns, D. (2003). Developing person-centred counselling. 2nd edn. London: SAGE Publications.

Merry, T. (1999). Learning and being in person-centred counselling. Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, U. K.: PCCS Books.

Murphy, D. (2014). Psychotherapy, ontology and therapist positioning: why simplistic integrationist approaches don’t work. Available at: https://personcentredpsych.wordpress.com /2014/05/14/psychotherapy-ontology-and-therapist-positioning-why-simplistic-integrationist-approaches-dont-work/ (Accessed: 7 December 2017).

Norcross, J. C., & Wampold, B. E. (2011). Evidence-based therapy relationships: Research conclusions and clinical practices. Psychotherapy, 48(1), pp. 98-102.

Nye, A., Connell, J., Haake, R., & Barkham, M. (2018). Person-centred experiential therapy (PCET) training within a UK NHS IAPT service: experiences of selected counsellors in the PRaCTICED trial. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, pp. 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2018.1544608

Parkes, C. H. (2019). Finding My Voice: A Qualitative Exploration into the Perceived Impact of Person-Centred Counsellor Training upon Counsellors who were Adopted as a Baby. Master Dissertation, University of Chester.

Rogers, C. R. & Sanford R. C. (1984). Client-centred psychotherapy. In H. I. Kaplan and B. J. Sadock (eds.), Comprehensive textbook of psychiatry. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, pp. 74-88.

Rogers, C. R. (1957). A note on the nature of man. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 4 (3), pp.199-203.

Rogers, C. R. (1959). A theory of therapy, personality, and interpersonal relationship as developed in the client-centred framework, in S. Koch (ed.) Psychology: a study of a science, Study I. Conceptual and systematic: Vol. 3 Formulation of the person and the social context. London: McGraw-Hill, pp. 184-256.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. London: Constable & Robinson.

Standal, S. W. (1954). The need for positive regards: A contribution to client-centred theory. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Stefano, J. D., D'Iuso, N., Blake, E., Fitzpatrick, M., Drapeau, M., & Chamodraka, M. (2007). Trainees’ experiences of impasses in counselling and the impact of group supervision on their resolution: A pilot study. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research: Linking research with practice, 7(1), 42-47, 10.1080/14733140601140378

Sutanti, N. (2018). Transcript and process analysis. (Submitted coursework essay). The University of Nottingham. (Unpublished).

Sutanti, N. (2019). Exploring the Challenges of the Non-Directive Attitude in Person-Centred Counselling in Indonesian Culture. KnE Social Sciences, 3(17), pp. 37–50. https://doi.org/10.18502/kss.v3i17.462

Tudor, K. (2011). Rogers' therapeutic conditions: A relational conceptualization. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 10(3), pp. 165-180, https://doi.org/10.1080/14779757.2011.599513

Tudor, K. (2013). Person-Centered psychology and therapy, ecopsychology and ecotherapy. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 12(4), pp. 315-329, https://doi.org/10.1080/14779757.2013.855137

Video practice-1. A personal video of counselling practice in a small skills group of the developing professional practice and skills module. The University of Nottingham. (Unpublished).

Video practice-6. A personal video of counselling practice in a small skills group of the developing professional practice and skills module. The University of Nottingham. (Unpublished).

Wyatt, G. (2002). The multifaceted nature of congruence within the therapeutic relationship. In G. Wyatt (ed.) Rogers’ therapeutic conditions: Evolution, theory and practice: Congruence. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books, pp. 79-95.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21831/progcouns.v1i2.34615


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Supervised by:


Our journal indexed by:


ISSN 2722-6581 (print) || ISSN 2722-2012 (online)

ProgCouns Stats