Experiencing Carl Rogers From the Client's Point of View: A Vicarious Ethnographic Investigation. I. Extraction and Perception of Meaning

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Therapy is usually described from the therapist's point of view. It is often portrayed as a process of interventions operating on clients to produce changes in structures and processes. Even Carl Rogers has been portrayed as a directive, interventionist therapist. Despite statements that it is clients who make therapy work there are virtually no descriptions of how clients do this. In this study 2 researchers used a vicarious empathic ethnographic method to try to enter into clients' experience of Carl Rogers through transcripts of his work with 3 clients. The goal was to explore how clients actively construed the therapy encounter and used it in terms of their own purposes. Of particular interest were 3 questions: Do different clients construe “the same” therapeutic stimulus differently? (Answer: yes.) How did the 2 vicarious clients experience Carl Rogers? (1 construed him as more empathically on-target than the other, but both construed him as significantly missing with 2 out of the 3 clients.) Was Carl Rogers experienced as a directive, interventionist therapist? (Although he was experienced as influencing the interaction he was not experienced as having the intention to be directive or to deliberately intervene.) An unexpected finding was how interwoven the therapy encounter seemed, suggesting it may be more meaningful to talk about therapist and client co-thinking and co-experiencing.

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