Client-Centered therapy in the care of the mentally handicapped


Hans Peters


Regarding the treatment of mentally handicapped persons, three approaches toward treatment are possible. The first approach involves influencing the relationship between ward personnel and mentally handicapped persons. The second approach is the therapeutic treatment of mentally handicapped persons by means of mediation therapy, which means that the therapist is responsible for starting up, administering, revising and supervising treatment, but that the treatment itself is administered by ward personnel, parents and/or other persons. This implicitly means that, in imitation of Rogers, I consider empathic understanding and empathic responding as an attitude as well as a skill that can be learned. The third approach is treatment of the mentally handicapped person administered by the psychotherapist. In the following, I wish to elaborate on these three approaches. My work with mentally handicapped clients follows in a client-centered, as well as, a behavior-therapeutic frame of reference, and I am an advocate of a combination of methods (see e.g.., Peters, 1984, 1991, 1992 and 1999), I will hereby limit myself to the administration of client centered practice in the treatment of these persons.