Sophia Sflakidou & Maria Kefalopoulou (2015): The person-centred approach as an ideological discourse: a discourse analysis of person-centred counsellors’ accounts on their way of being
In accord with humanistic psychology, the person-centred approach (PCA) highlights individuality and is characterised by subjectivity and freedom vs. objectivity and determination. This study endeavoured to define how person-centred counsellors position themselves within PCA. In order to employ a critical frame of mind, analysis focused on identifying constructions, contradictions and functions of language that pointed to power relations. This study revealed a power relation between PCA and the counsellors, displaying five discourses: the philosophical discourse, the discourse of freedom, the discourse of religion/spirituality, the discourse of militarism and the discourse of eros (love). PCA is thought to empower the client in relation to its respectful and non-directive, therapeutic framework. Analysis suggests that despite rhetorical endorsement of PCA as enabling, the approach has implications for subjectivity and practice regarding the counsellor him/herself. Adhesive attachments closely resembling religious and erotic ones seem responsible for dogmatic and militaristic phenomena as described by participants. Strong emotions such as pride and guilt are indicative of this adhesive investment. Furthermore, the analysis shows that as the discourse of freedom becomes embedded in the philosophical discourse of PCA, it has connotations of truth. Lastly, the discourse of religion/spirituality seems to organise PCA in terms of meaning coherence.
Keywords: discourse analysis; person-centred approach; ideology
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