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“That is just your stuff”: The potential use and abuse of congruence in counselling and psychotherapy practice and training

Jones, Callum


Callum Jones


During my various counselling training experiences, I have encountered several misuses of congruence; the historic bullying experience was massively impactful on my mental health and confidence, which prompted the writing of this article and the coining of the term "intentional congruence misuse" (ICM). ICM occurs when congruent reflections and assertions consciously harm another, thus removing congruence from empathy and unconditional positive regard. This ultimately undermines the philosophies of the person-centred approach and theory. Carlsson et al. (2011) found that former counselling students who became qualified therapists reported poor experiences during their training, listing power dynamics, and poor peer and supervisory issues as causes. Furthermore, Carlsson et al. (2011) used psychoanalysts as participants, providing further diversity to this article outside a humanistic perspective. Edwards (2018) offers an opposing view, suggesting that whilst difficult , many find their experiences as counselling trainees enriching , and this was particularly prevalent when undertaking personal therapy. It appears pivotal to acknowledge that these arguments highlight each person's individual experience of person-centred training. Edwards (2018) also displays the perspective of the counselling trainee as the client, illustrating a different viewpoint. I acknowledge that this article is written from a biased point of view, and more often than not, congruence (albeit often difficult) can promote positive change. Abstract This piece discusses the potential use and misuse of congruence within counselling training and practice. A definition of congruence is provided, and how deliberate misuse of congruence could result from two separate emotional communications (bully-ing and gaslighting) is discussed. Current representations and misrepresentations of congruence in counselling and psychotherapy have been highlighted. A new term of "Intentional Congruence Misuse" was coined to explain this position (not to be confused with incongruence). "Intentional Congruence Misuse" is the deliberate bullying of another individual using terms related to congruence. A discussion has been provided to emphasise the evident implications for counselling, psychotherapy practice and training. The author acknowledges that this opinion piece will be from a biased perspective. Still, it does not aim to detract from others who have found their therapy and counselling training beneficial.


Jones, C. (2023). “That is just your stuff”: The potential use and abuse of congruence in counselling and psychotherapy practice and training. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 23(2), 283-287.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 7, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 7, 2023
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Nov 16, 2023
Journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
Print ISSN 1473-3145
Electronic ISSN 1746-1405
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 2
Pages 283-287
Item Discussed Congruence
Keywords Psychiatry and Mental health; Applied Psychology; Clinical Psychology