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  • Writer's pictureTravis A. Musich, PsyD

A Client-Centered Approach to Working with Clients who hold Diverse Identities

Nondirective, client-centered therapy, also known as person-centered therapy, is a form of therapy developed by Carl Rogers in the 1950s that emphasizes the client's autonomy and self-direction. One of the key principles of this approach is the belief that every individual is unique and has the capacity to grow and change. This can be particularly important when working with clients who hold diverse identities, as it allows the therapist to acknowledge and respect the unique experiences and challenges that these clients may face.

In this blog post, we will explore how nondirective therapists can attend to diverse intersecting identities, such as ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, ability, class, and religious identities, in a client-centered way. We will also discuss the importance of sensitivity to issues and previous trauma surrounding diversity, as well as the use of empathic following statements to understand the client's personal frame of reference.

One of the key ways that nondirective therapists attend to diverse intersecting identities is by creating a safe and nonjudgmental space for clients to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This can be especially important for clients who may have experienced discrimination, marginalization, or trauma related to their identities. By creating a safe space, the therapist can help the client feel more comfortable sharing their experiences and feelings, which can facilitate the therapeutic process.

In addition to creating a safe space, nondirective therapists focus on developing empathy for their clients which helps clients feel understood and validated. For example, the therapist may say something like "It sounds like you have experienced a lot of challenges related to your identity. Can you tell me more about that?" This allows the client to feel heard and helps the therapist to better understand the client's perspective.

It is also important for nondirective therapists to be aware of their own biases and how these may impact the therapeutic relationship. This can be especially important when working with clients who hold diverse identities, as the therapist may not have the same lived experiences as the client. By acknowledging and exploring their own biases, the therapist can help create a more inclusive and accepting environment for the client.

In conclusion, a nondirective, client-centered approach can be an effective way to work with clients who hold diverse identities. By creating a safe and nonjudgmental space, using empathic following statements, and acknowledging and exploring their own biases, therapists can help clients feel understood and supported as they work through issues related to their identities.


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