Editors’ Introductory Commentary

The editors dedicate this issue to the memory of Barbara Temaner Brodley. Over the years for many of us, Barbara’s writings have proved to be invaluable in defining and clarifying the practice of client-centered therapy. Some of our graduate students remark that in studying Barbara’s writings, they feel as if they have “come home.” We are happy when this happens, but understand that client-centered practice is not for everyone. The papers found within this edition of the double issue of the Person-Centered Journal (PCJ), with the sole exception of the article by Daniel Metevier, were originally considered for inclusion in the collection of Barbara’s papers in the book edited by Kathryn Moon, Marjorie Witty, Barry Grant and Bert Rice titled Practicing Client-Centered Therapy, published by PCCS Books in 2011. Due to space limitations, we did not include them at that time, but are pleased to offer them here in this issue of the PCJ.

“Client-Centered Therapy What is it? What is it not?” argues for making clear distinctions between therapeutic practices which, while grounded in the principles and values of the approach, diverge from client-centered therapy. Barbara advocates identifying this larger family of therapies as “person-centered therapies,” of which clientcentered therapy is a distinctive member/practice. Practitioners, it seems to us, are involved in a continual effort to define their own practices, and to attempt to identify when their practice is consistent with or when it departs from those practices to which they are committed. These divergences may lead to innovation and evolution, and they may represent mistakes and a falling short of the discipline of the approach. This paper presents some criteria for gauging whether or not we are practicing client-centered therapy and clarifies some of the misunderstandings which have grown up around the practice.

“A Client-Centered Therapy Practice” describes Barbara’s conclusions about her therapy, having observed its effects over many years and many clients. She enumerates the core values undergirding the practice of client-centered therapy, and identifies the processes of change which she has observed in her own practice with clients. The essay provides a strong critique of directiveness and the subtle ways in which it may undermine the client’s self-authority and autonomy. Particularly helpful is the section on responding from the therapist’s frame of reference, in which she gives theoretically grounded justifications for therapist-frame responses.

“Some Differences in Clients’ Questions and Rogers’ Responses to Questions Between the Mr. Bryan Sessions and Rogers’ Post-Bryan Therapy Sessions” is a paper that presents some of the findings of a dissertation by Claudia Kemp. Barbara was a member of Kemp’s dissertation committee, and in this article they focus on revealing the ways in which Rogers’ behavior changed after his work with a client named Mr. Bryan. Brodley and Kemp contend that Rogers was not yet a client-centered therapist when he worked with Mr. Bryan, but he was on his way toward developing into the client-centered therapist he came to be known for.

Finally, we include an interview with Barbara, conducted in 2002 by Daniel Metevier. The interview is part of his dissertation on client-centered supervision. Dan’s interview questions helped to explicate Barbara’s development as a consultant (she eschews the term “supervisor”), including her distinctions between the attitudinal conditions provided as therapist and the same attitudes involved in the consultative relation. She describes working with a range of students, some of whom do not really aspire to practice from the client-centered approach and some of whom welcome and are open to Barbara’s open and honest feedback on their work. For those of us involved in providing supervision/consultation, we hope this essay illuminates how a master client-centered therapist conveys the practice.