Organismic growth


oo many therapists think they can make something happen. Personally I like much better the approach of an agriculturist or a farmer or a gardener. I can't make corn grow, but I can provide the right soil and plant it in the right area and see that it gets enough water; I can nurture it so that exciting things happen. I think that is the nature of therapy. It's so unfortunate that we've so long followed a medical model and not a growth model. A growth model is much more appropriate to most people, to most situations." (Rogers & Russell, 2002, P.259; cited in Tudor, 2013; p. 317)

Reading an article yesterday made me see the links between the way in which I work as a therapist, and the way in which I work with plants and animals. In my own garden I cannot make a plant grow; I cannot make a potato grow into a plant (despite many attempts!). But, as Roger's says above, I can give the potato the right conditions so that it can do what it does best: grow. I've learnt that potatoes like to be planted in decent soil, with regular waterings, and plenty of sunlight to promote healthy growth.

In the same way, as a therapist, I cannot make a client grow into the person they want to be (a very arrogant assumption). Rather, it is through the relationship that we (the client and I) have that the client can grow into whom he or she is to be. I try to not be judgemental, and hence open to all aspects of the client, beautiful and ugly. I try to be genuine in who I am, rather than pretending to be a professional expert on their life. And I try to empathise with them and their experience of the world. I will not have had identical experiences to them, but I try to see how the world is through their eyes.

Rogers repeatedly mentions the word "growth", and that we go to therapy to nurture that growth. We are not machines to be fixed, and "made right". We are biological organisms, like potatoes, which need nurturing in order to grow.


Tudor, K (2013): Person-Centred psychology and therapy, ecopsychology and ecotherapy; Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies, vol. 12 (4) 315-329