013 – Third Person in the Room – 19 Propositions 1 – Simile and Metaphor – Personal Philosophy in Counselling

013 – Third Person in the Room – 19 Propositions 1 – Simile and Metaphor – Personal Philosophy in Counselling

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In episode 13 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly discuss the ‘third person in the room’. ‘Theory with Rory’ introduces Carl Rogers’ 19 propositions, and Ken looks at working with imagery. Last, Ken and Rory ask: what is your counselling philosophy?

The Third Person in the Room

When is it permissible to have a third person in the room? For example, a client might need an interpreter (when the counsellor and client do not share a language, including sign language). It is vital that clients have the support they need, but interpreters should be professional ones (not friends or relatives). Do make a written note of the identity of any interpreter, and their relationship to the client.

Rory and Ken discuss the implications for contracting and confidentiality, and the importance of clarity in the counsellor's language when this is to be interpreted. They also examine what to do if an anxious client wishes to bring a friend, relative or support worker into the first session.

Other forms of the third person in the room are:

  • guide dogs – do remember not to pet these, as they are working dogs
  • the ‘invisible’ third person – that is, an electronic device, when audio-recording client sessions.

Rogers' 19 Propositions 1

The 19 propositions stand alongside the seven stages of process, and the six necessary and sufficient conditions, to form the three pillars of Rogers’ theory of person-centred counselling. The 19 propositions are complex to read and understand, being written in 1950s' philosophical language. Roy decodes these, making them accessible and comprehensible.

First presented in 1951 in Rogers’ book Client-Centered Therapy, the 19 propositions are based on phenomenology. In this podcast, Rory decodes propositions 1 to 8 (which become incrementally more complex):

  1. I make sense of myself, others and my world based on my own consistently changing experience.
  2. My sense of reality is unique, formed out of what I experience, and how I process and understand my experience.
  3. My entire way of being and doing arises out of my personal sense of reality.
  4. Part of my reality is my sense of self.
  5. My sense of self arises from my experiences and perceptions, especially from comparing myself with others, and from the opinions and judgements of others as I perceive them. My sense of self is fluid but includes consistent perceptions. I attach values to these perceptions.
  6. I have an innate impulse to care for myself, heal and grow. This includes seeking to keep myself safe and intact, and to realise my inner potential, becoming who I am capable of being.
  7. You can adequately understand my behaviour only through understanding how I see myself and others in the world.
  8. I behave as I do in order to meet my needs, as I experience and perceive them, and as I experience and perceive reality.

Rory illustrates each of these with real-life examples.

Simile and Metaphor in Counselling

Imagery can be very powerful in counselling. This includes both simile (when we compare things using the word like or as) and metaphor (when we compare things by saying one thing literally is another). For example, ‘I feel like a caged animal’ is a simile, while ‘I have a knot in my stomach’ is a metaphor.

Ken explains where we might see imagery present within our therapeutic relationship with a client. Imagery is a cultural understanding between people using pictorial, evocative language. Imagery in counselling ties into empathy. The client perceives there is a shared understanding, and this can take the therapeutic relationship to a deeper level.

We discuss the dangers of looking at imagery from our own self-concept, and how we should always check our understanding to ensure we are in the client’s frame of reference.

Personal Philosophy in Counselling

Each counsellor’s philosophical views are individual; Rogers observed that the person-centred approach is as varied as the people who practise it. Rory and Ken debate how personal philosophy guides practice, and how this can change over time. If you have a professional website in future, it will be useful to include your personal philosophy, to give potential clients a taste of who you are and what you are offering. A number of quotes by Rogers are given to illustrate the points discussed.

Links and Resources

Client-Centered Therapy by Carl Rogers (Constable and Company, 1951); this was reprinted in 2003

Counselling Tutor Facebook group