Experiential congruence: qualitative analysis of client and counsellor narrative accounts of significant events in time-limited person-centred therapy
The concept of congruence represents a core theoretical construct in the development of client-centred therapy, and remains fundamental to the practice of experiential approaches to psychotherapy. This study explores the ways in which congruence is experienced during significant moments of therapy. Client and counsellor accounts of moments of congruence/incongruence were collected from six cases of person-centred counselling, and were analysed using a method of narrative analysis. It was found that participants experienced congruence in a variety of ways, suggesting that the construct does not describe a unitary phenomenon. Congruence was experienced as simultaneously intrapsychic and relational. The effective negotiation of episodes of incongruence comprised a necessary element of effective therapy. Further research into the nature of congruence may be valuable in contributing to new understandings of how therapeutic alliances are made, broken and repaired.