Guest blog: John Threadgold – Should we love our clients as we love ourselves?


This month’s blog (a day late – sorry. wordpress wouldn’t let me post it yesterday; it kept hanging before it would finish uploading) is from John Threadgold who is a London-based psychotherapist. You can find out more from him below his article. Which, without more ado, is as follows, here:


Should we love our clients as we love ourselves ?

Trainee and qualified therapists, and teachers may cringe at the idea that as therapists we are here to love our clients in the hope that they will heal. However we are called upon by Carl Rogers, to offer a relationship characterised by the core conditions, unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence. And is this not a call to love?

But what exactly does this mean, in terms of our relationship with ourselves, and our clients? Today I am just going to write about Unconditional Positive Regard, although I recognise that this quality cannot be seen in isolation.

One of my all-time heroes of the therapy world, Eugene Gendlin, wrote:

There is often so much unlovely stuff in a client, which cannot genuinely be regarded positively.  But I see no contradiction because, as I formulate it, unconditional positive regard is for the embattled person in there, not for the stuff.  The person in there is up against that same stuff, struggling to live with or in spite of it all, all the time.  I do not mean that it is always easy to feel for every person struggling inside, only that there is no contradiction here’

As a counsellor – as a human being even, I am to have that unconditional positive regard for myself – the person that I am. And what a battle that is. We as counsellors are no different from our clients. Who has not experienced to varying degrees, trauma, hurt, pain, bereavement and loss, abuse of some kind. Hopes and dreams shattered. Physical emotional and mental pain. ?

Part of my own journey, my own healing, is to be able to step back, get a little space between myself and all those hurting feelings. To treat them with compassion. And I can do this more easily, when I, as a person have someone treating me with that love and compassion, or as Rogers puts it, ‘unconditional positive regard’.

And my own capacity, as a human being, as a therapist, to hold a space, and to respect and cherish and nurture and encourage the embattled person within, is also linked directly to my ability to offer this to myself. I cannot offer to another person, what I do not have myself.

So my journey is a journey of self-acceptance. And as Carl Rogers so wonderfully observed‘ the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change’.

More About John Threadgold.

John is BACP Accredited for Counselling and Psychotherapy. He holds a MA in Focusing and Experiential Psychotherapy, and runs a private practice in London called New Focus Therapy. He also offers supervision to counselling students at LC&CTA a college in Deptford. He is a focusing-oriented person centred and integrative therapist, Focusing Teacher and Supervisor. You can find out more from his web site .


2 thoughts on “Guest blog: John Threadgold – Should we love our clients as we love ourselves?

  1. dpnoble says:

    Thank you for your thoughts John. I am not a therapist, though I have received some basic training through jobs that I have held, and through church, but I have been a client. My therapist was very affirming and supportive, and we worked through much. However, as good a therapist as mine was, (and mine was very good indeed), there were areas that – if they had been problems for me (they weren’t) – were “no-go” areas. While I understand that there may be things that even the most experienced therapist might find difficult to work with, having “no-go” areas might seem a little counter to “unconditional positive regard”. I’d be really interested in your thoughts on that very tricky area.

  2. […] John Threadgold – should we love our clients as we love […]

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