Organization: University of East Anglia
Judy Moore was trained in the person-centred approach in the late 1980s before becoming a trainer on the Diploma in person-centred counselling and psychotherapy at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, UK. She later became Director of the UEA Counselling Service and Director of the University’s Centre for Counselling Studies. More recently, she has been engaged in an evolving project to investigate anomalies within the person-centred approach by studying the original client-centred theory, particularly in the light of the work of Eugene Gendlin. She has contributed to and co-edited (with Nikolaos Kypriotakis) two volumes of Senses of Focusing (Eurasia Publications, 2021). Her most recent contribution to the literature is a chapter on ‘Spirituality and Transcendence’ in the 3rd edition of the Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy (ed. Susan Stephen et al., Palgrave Macmillan, in press). She lives and works in private practice in Norwich, UK.
Title: Discovering ‘a new universe’ for ourselves: beyond voices that affirm or deny ‘spirituality’ in the Person-Centred Approach
Carl Rogers said towards the end of his life that he had ‘underestimated the importance of [a] mystical, spiritual dimension’ to human existence. Since his death in 1987 an unstated battle has unfolded in the Person-Centred world where some have sought powerfully to affirm and others powerfully to deny the existence and relevance of a dimension that Rogers chose to describe in his later writings as ‘the spiritual’. We may have learnt much from these voices, but what might we also have lost by giving too much attention either to powerful assertions of ‘the spiritual’ or to equally powerful assertions of concepts and theories that promote a more secular understanding?
Since Rogers’ death, ‘spirituality’ has been re-interpreted and re-presented in the Person-Centred world by key individuals, but there has also been a re-framing of phenomena (for example, ‘presence’ and ‘relational depth’) originally articulated quite tentatively by Carl Rogers at a time when his own appreciation of an ineffable dimension to human and non-human life was unfolding.
Where do we place ourselves within this particular polyphony/cacophony? Is it possible that, since the death of Carl Rogers, we have created false gods whose authoritative voices have diverted us along paths of their interpretation, invention or choosing, hence contracting our own potential for engaging directly with ‘a new universe, where all the familiar concepts have disappeared [and] nothing remains but vibrating energy’ (Rogers, 1980: 347).