This engaging new book presents a ‘child-centred’ model of therapy that is thoroughly person-centred in its values. Establishing the roots of child-centred therapy in both child development theories and the Rogerian model, David Smyth demonstrates that counselling the person-centred way is exceptionally relevant to young people. The book further develops child-centred therapy theory and practice, applying the model to real-life practice with children and young people, whether in play, school, organisations or with those with special needs. It also explores the complex professional issues so critical with this age group, including challenging boundaries, establishing an effective relationship with parents and other primary carers, legal and ethical considerations, and multi-professional practice. The author's warm, accessible style conveys his passionate conviction that the person-centred approach can provide a strong foundation for child therapy practice. His book introduces humanistic counselling and psychotherapy trainees to the particular requirements of working with children and young people, and also illustrates the value of using a ‘child-centred’ approach for those who might already be working with children in mental health settings. Equally, this volume can be used for professional development in many disciplines including adult trained therapists who want to extend their knowledge of people prior to reaching adulthood.

Directive and Non-directive Therapy

Directive and Non-directive Therapy

Directive and non-directive therapy

Covered in this Chapter

  • Introduction
  • The principles of non-directive therapy
  • Offering direction within the child-centred approach


Central to the person-centred tradition is the principle of non-directivity by the practitioner towards the client. Rogers (1939) listed factors he found important in maintaining a good relationship with the parents of a ‘problem’ child. A key to success in working with children was described as ‘the essence of non-interference’. Rogers (1980) speaks of the person-centred approach and how this theme became clarified through experience, interaction with others and research.

Rogers, describing his shifting views, says: ‘This transition is well captured in my book, Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child, written in 1937–1938, in which I devote a long chapter to relationship therapy, though the rest ...

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