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Embracing Non-directivity: Reassessing person-centered theory and practice in the 21st century

Embracing Non-directivity: Reassessing person-centered theory and practice in the 21st century

Brian Levitt

ISBN 978 1 898059 68 4 (2005)

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Non-directivity is the distinguishing feature of the revolutionary, anti-authoritarian approach to psychotherapy and human relations developed by Carl Rogers. This book brings together an impressive international collection of person-centered writers, each exploring an important facet of non-directivity as it relates to person-centered theory and practice. Their contributions examine the history, theory, applications, and implications of the non-directive attitude. Non-directivity emerges in these pages as a way of being that remains vital and highly relevant to the practice of person-centered therapy, other person-centered applications, and psychotherapy in general.


• Introduction: About the Non-directive Attitude – Barbara Brodley

Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Non-directivity
• Non-directivity: The foundational attitude – Brian Levitt
• Historic Events in Client-Centered Therapy and the Person-Centered Approach – Nat Raskin
• Forms of Non-directive Psychotherapy: The non-directive tradition – Garry Prouty
• Two Rogers and Congruence: The emergence of therapist-centered therapy and the demise of client-centered therapy – Marvin Frankel and Lisbeth Sommerbeck
• Non-Directivity: An ontological concept – Françoise Ducroux-Biass
• Facilitative Responsiveness: Non-directiveness from anthropological, epistemological and ethical perspectives – Peter Schmid

The Non-directive Attitude in Individual Psychotherapy
• ‘It Enlightens Everything You Do’: Observing non-directivity in a client-centered therapy demonstration Session – Brian Levitt and Barbara Brodley
• The Experience of Non-directivity in Client-Centered Therapy: A case study – Beth Freire
• Socratic Self-examination by Means of Non-directive Empathy: The Anatomy of Empathic Reflections – Marvin Frankel
• Non-Directive Therapy with Clients Diagnosed with a Mental Illness – Lisbeth Sommerbeck
• An Exploration of Non-directive Work with Drug and Alcohol Users – Sue Wilders
• The Art of Non-directive 'Being' in Psychotherapy – Jerold Bozarth

Ethics and Applications Beyond Individual Psychotherapy
• Non-directivenessand the Problem of Influence – Marge Witty
• Taking Only What is Given: Self-determination and empathy in non-directive client-centered therapy – Barry Grant
• Non-directive Therapist Congruence in Theory and Practice – Kathy Moon
• Non-directive Person-Centered Groups: Facilitation of freedom and personal power – Jerold Bozarth
• Client-Centered Family and Couple Therapy: A retrospective and a practitioner’s guide – John McPherrin
• Trust Builds Learning: The context and effectiveness of non-directivity in education – Jeffrey Cornelius-White and Cecily Cornelius-White
• Some Essentials of a Client-Centered Approach to Assessment – C.H. Patterson (previously published paper with C. Edward Watkins, Jr)

Historical Afterword
• The Nondirective Attitude – Nat Raskin

Many of the 'believers' in non-directivity can be found in Embracing Non-Directivity edited by Brian.E. Levitt (2005) (the roll call is an excellent reminder that it is not passé nor academically  unsound to be non-directive)  and the behavioural/attitudinal distinction runs through many of their articles, explicitly or otherwise. In fact, to drive it home from the outset, the introductory chapter is a revised version of Barbara Temaner Brodley's classic short paper from 1999, 'About the Non-directive Attitude', which articulates the issue simply and skilfuly and is a great opener. She also carefully sketches other themes which will recur throughout the text: influence vs. direction; the relationship with the core conditions; the role of theory; the notion of non-directive therapy as a principled art inolving 'freedom within great discipline' (p3). Her clarity is welcome, as is her controversial closing reminder that the non-directive attitude 'is in the bones of [Carl Rogers'] theory and practice. It is not a myth.' From hereonin the book is almost an embarrassment of riches. It is a scholarly collection and one that lends formidable weight to the argument that rather than being out-of-date, non-directivity is more relevant now than ever, and as the breadth and intelligence of the articles suggests, we might even be seeing a significant shift or re-balancing of Person-Centred thought - a kind of back to the future where the contemporary proliferation and dilution of ideas and practices inspires some to seek out once more the essence of the approach. … I don't think it's overstating things to identify this as a key text for anyone wanting to understand what Carl Rogers' approach to therapy has become, some 50 years after its inception. Andy Rogers, Ipnosis No 21, 2006

This book is essential reading for counsellors interested in updating their understanding of Carl Rogers’ person-centred theory. In a series of essays written by an impressive international collection of person-centred writers, this book explores important facets of non-directivity as it relates to person-centred theory and practice. Their contributions examine the history, theory, applications and implications of the non-directive attitude. Non-directivity emerges in these pages as a way of being that remains vital and highly relevant to the practice of person-centred therapy, other person-centred applications and psychotherapy in general. Rhonda Luttrell, Diploma in Professional Counselling, QMACA, Counselling Australia, Volume 5, Number 4, Summer 2005

Brian Levitt

Brian Levitt

Brian E. Levitt, Psy.D., C.Psych. is a senior psychologist with Kaplan and Kaplan Psychologists in Hamilton, Ontario, where he has a practice in rehabilitation psychology. Prior to immigrating to Canada, Brian was a clinical psychologist in the United States. While there, he trained for three years at the Chicago Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, the center that grew from Carl Rogers’ work at the University of Chicago. After his studies at the Center, which included a post-doctoral fellowship, he joined the staff as a therapist and trainer. He also trained for two years at the Pre-Therapy Institute in Chicago, under the tutelage of Garry Prouty, earning certification in the practice of Pre-Therapy. Brian is the editor of two books with PCCS: Embracing Non-Directivity and Reflections on Human Potential.

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