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Core Condition Of A Working Relationship
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  • Course Code: MC02
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  • Country: Australia

Assessment Reflection

Students are required to write a report that demonstrates knowledge of the three core conditions to a working (i.e. therapeutic) relationship: empathetic understanding, congruence/genuineness, and unconditional positive regard through reflection upon an interaction in the real world.

Specifically, you are required to:

1.    Define the core condition in your own words (no quotes) drawing on relevant and appropriate literature.

2.    Provide a summary of the interaction to allow the reader to understand the context of the interaction (keep this brief). Clearly identify the absence of one of these core conditions to a working relationship by identifying and analysing the non-verbal and verbal behaviours of the other person and how this links to your understanding of the core condition under analysis. Draw on relevant and appropriate literature to support your analysis here.

3.    Reflect upon and describe the impacts on the relationship at the time. Draw on relevant and appropriate literature to support your analysis on how the lack of/or absence of this core condition can have on a relationship, i.e., linking back to how this core condition contributes to a working/therapeutic relationship.

4.    Reflect upon and describe the impacts this had on you.

i.    how you felt, what you thought, how you reacted verbally and non-verbally to the person in that interaction where there was absence of the core condition under analysis.

5.    Repeat steps 2-5 for each of the core conditions (Empathy, Congruence/Genuineness, Unconditional Positive Regard).

Empathetic understanding

1. Definition of the Core Condition - Empathetic Understanding

Having empathetic understanding is being able to put oneself in another person's shoes and fully appreciate what they are going through (Clarke, 2010). To achieve this level of comprehension, it is necessary to go deeper into their psyche, sharing their thoughts and experiences rather than only intellectually acknowledging their emotions.

One of the most influential theorists in this field, Carl Rogers, stressed the need of developing a strong therapeutic connection by empathising with the client (Hackney & Bernard, 2016).

2. Summary and Analysis of the Interaction

I was feeling overwhelmed as a result of the workload lately. I believe my speech and conversation showed apparent symptoms of stress and exhaustion during the extent of our chat. My tone was urgent and I believe desperation and exasperation could be detected in my statements. My posture was stooped, with sleepy eyes, with nonverbal cues demonstrating that I was distressed. 

However, I realized that Alex could not empathise with me. Despite hearing about my challenges, he could not emotionally put himself in my position. It was apparent that his attention was not on how it impacted me so much as on the matter at hand. This was further demonstrated by his reactions which were rather solution oriented rather than being emotionally supportive.

According to Eklund and Meranius (2021), empathy requires identifying with the other person rather than simply caring about them. My communication with Alex needed to have this very element.

3. Reflection on the Impact on the Relationship

Our connection at the time suffered from a lack of empathy. As we talked, I felt more and more space between us. He nodded in agreement with my comments, but his tone was cold, which might have been indicative of the fact that he did not truly empathise with me and my circumstances. According to the theoretical literature, empathy is crucial to developing meaningful connections with others.

According to Krikorian (2022), empathetic responses help people feel like they belong in a community and increase their confidence in others. As in my contact with Alex, its absence might lead to a break in rapport.

4. Reflection on Personal Impact

When I reflect on this exchange, I can assess that the lack of empathetic understanding had a significant impact on me. The entire extent of the chat made me uneasy. Furthermore, the lack of any empathy on the part of my listener added to the distress and helplessness that I was already feeling. This led me to doubt my sense of worth and importance with respect to my coworker as I felt my concerns did not hold importance for them.

It led to a general sense of distrust between the two of us. This encounter lends credence to this theory in line with Rogers's claim that empathetic behaviour benefits both the giver and the receiver (Gilbert & Leahy, 2007). Dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion are possible outcomes of interactions lacking empathy. In conclusion, the ability to empathise is a cornerstone of every successful therapeutic or professional partnership.

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Congruence

1. Definition of the Core Condition - Congruence

The term "congruence" describes the degree to which an individual's inner emotions, ideas, and attitudes are in line with their outward behaviours (Sutanti, 2020). When a person's internal worldview coincides with their external actions and demeanour, they are said to be acting in an authentic manner.

Rogers argued that trust and open communication are necessary for constructive growth and transformation, and he emphasised the need for congruence in therapeutic partnerships (Scott et al., 2023).

2. Summary and Analysis of the Interaction

One recent exchange I had with my friend Mark exemplifies this incoherence perfectly. We were talking about how hard it was for him to maintain relationships with other people. Mark was attempting to give off the impression that everything was all right and that he was in command of the situation.

His verbal cues, however, needed to be more consistent with this. His responses were vague, and he would often go mute or change the subject when probing questions were directed at him. His nonverbal signs, such as his forced grins, frequent sighs, and avoidance of eye contact, also betrayed a disconnect between his inner state and his outside demeanour.

The incongruity stood out more prominently in this setting. Mark appeared uncomfortable with being really honest, which made their conversation feel forced. In his writings, Rogers emphasised the value of congruence by arguing that people are more effective communicators and build stronger bonds with others when they are true to themselves (Omylinska-Thurston & James, 2011).

3. Reflection on the Impact on the Relationship

The inconsistency of our conversation made it difficult to connect on a deep and trusting level. Mark's remarks did not match his emotional condition. Thus, the dialogue sounded forced and unnatural. He seemed to be hiding his genuine emotions, making it hard for me to give helpful guidance or assistance.

Stephen's (2023) findings confirm the importance of congruence in productive therapeutic partnerships. When a person is consistent in their actions and words, they create a climate of openness, trust, and mutual respect that is conducive to sharing ideas and reaching consensus. My conversation exemplifies the dangers of incongruence, which can lead to inefficient communication and superficial relationships that are not helpful for problem-solving or personal development.

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4. Reflection on Personal Impact

My own feelings of confusion and incompetence throughout my conversation with Mark can be directly attributed to this lack of consistency. I had difficulty responding appropriately since I could not read his emotions. This made me feel frustrated and powerless as I fumbled my way through the talk.

Considering this exchange through the lens of Rogers' theory, it is easy to see how congruence benefits both parties. As a listener, one may gain insight into the other person's emotional condition and may respond more effectively (Kaimaxi & Lakioti, 2021). When it is lacking, as it was in my chat with Mark, it can lead to misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and even distress.

To sum up, genuine, fruitful connections rely heavily on congruence. Communication breakdowns, lack of depth in relationships, and harm to both parties are all possible results of incongruence. That is why it is so crucial to be on the same page as others if you want your relationships to thrive.

Unconditional positive regard

1. Definition of the Core Condition - Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) or transference refers to the practice of embracing and respecting another person without making any assumptions about their actions, traits, or experiences (Proctor et al., 2021). It hints at unending candour and genuine concern, creating a safe space for unfettered communication.

This principle, which originates in Carl Rogers' humanistic approach, is vital to building safety and trust in therapy partnerships, which in turn facilitates insight, development, and transformation (Vlaicu, 2022).

2. Summary and Analysis of the Interaction

I will use a conversation I had recently with Sarah, a coworker, to demonstrate the lack of UPR. We got together to talk about the project I was in charge of. Throughout our discussion, she was very critical of my method, maintaining that hers was superior. Her repeated interruptions and condescending remarks were clear signs that she was not being heard or considered. Her judgmental position was reinforced by her nonverbal clues, which included crossed arms, raised eyebrows, and limited eye contact.

This exchange made it quite evident that Sarah was not engaging in UPR. She was quick to criticise me and my thoughts without even trying to comprehend them. Rogers stated that UPR is crucial for healthy relationships because it facilitates self-disclosure, lessens rejection anxiety, and promotes straightforward conversation as it requires “experiencing a warm acceptance of each aspect of the client’s experience” (Sommers-Flanagan, 2015).

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3. Reflection on the Impact on the Relationship

Our working relationship suffered greatly since Sarah did not demonstrate UPR. It caused people to become defensive and tense. Her critical demeanour hindered free expression rather than encouraging an environment conducive to brainstorming and innovation.

Based on Rogers' theory, Mahon (2023) argues that a lack of UPR might prevent the cultivation of trust and openness in social interactions. As a result, people may feel compelled to hold back their genuine emotions and ideas, impeding their own problem-solving and development (Ort et al., 2022).

4. Reflection on Personal Impact

For me, Sarah's failure to show UPR has prompted feelings of defensiveness and invalidation. Fearing further criticism, I found myself reluctant to offer my thoughts and opinions. The urge to continually defend my actions also left me feeling depleted emotionally. My words grew more guarded, and I started using the same protective gestures and avoiding making eye contact that Sarah did.

When seen through the lens of Rogers's research, it becomes clear that UPR is crucial for facilitating efficient communication and bolstering a person's sense of worth and self-assurance (Woodward, 2020). When it is lacking, as it was in my conversation with Sarah, it may damage not only the relationship but also the way a person views him or herself.

In conclusion, UPR is crucial to having a conversation that is meaningful and productive. Its absence can have adverse effects on the relationship and on the people involved, including poor communication, invalidation, and a breakdown in trust. This highlights the significance of exhibiting UPR in all encounters, creating a climate of mutual respect and understanding, and encouraging development and adaptation.

References

Clark, A. J. (2010). Empathy: An integral model in the counseling process. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88(3), 348-356. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2010.tb00032.x
Eklund, J. H., & Meranius, M. S. (2021). Toward a consensus on the nature of empathy: A review of reviews. Patient Education and Counseling, 104(2), 300-307. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738399120304493
Gilbert, P., & Leahy, R. L. (Eds.). (2007). The therapeutic relationship in the cognitive behavioral psychotherapies. Routledge. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=VlN_AgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Gilbert,+P.,+%26+Leahy,+R.+L.+(2007).+The+therapeutic+relationship+in+the+cognitive+behavioral+psychotherapies.+Routledge.
&ots=Qs_HWldTCY&sig=JkchTUVhw4WWuXM4Dot8uFDln9w 
Hackney, H. L., & Bernard, J. M. (2016). Professional counseling: a process guide to helping. Pearson.
Kaimaxi, D., & Lakioti, A. (2021). The development of congruence: a thematic analysis of person-centered counselors’ perspectives. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 20(3), 232-249. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14779757.2021.1938179 
Krikorian, M. (2022). Carl Rogers: A Person-Centered Approach. In The Palgrave Handbook of Educational Thinkers (pp. 1-13). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-3-030-81037-5_106-1.pdf 
Krikorian, M. (2022). Carl Rogers: A Person-Centered Approach. In The Palgrave Handbook of Educational Thinkers (pp. 1-13). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-3-030-81037-5_106-1.pdf 
Mahon, D. (2023). Evidence Based Relationships 4: Empathy, Congruence, Unconditional Positive Regard, and Real Relationship. In Evidence Based Counselling & Psychotherapy for the 21st Century Practitioner (pp. 71-83). Emerald Publishing Limited. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/978-1-80455-732-720231007/full/html
Omylinska-Thurston, J., & James, P. E. (2011). The therapist's use of self: A closer look at the processes within congruence. Counselling Psychology Review. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2011-23036-002 
Ort, D., Moore, C., & Farber, B. A. (2022). Therapists’ perspectives on positive regard. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 1-15. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14779757.2022.2104751 
Proctor, C., Tweed, R. G., & Morris, D. B. (2021). Unconditional positive self-regard: The role of perceived parental conditional regard. The Humanistic Psychologist, 49(3), 400. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-20319-001 
Scott, K., Blundell, P., & Dougan, L. (2023). Therapist experiences of congruence in school-based counselling. European Journal for Qualitative Research in Psychotherapy, 13. https://www.ejqrp.org/index.php/ejqrp/article/view/198
Sommers-Flanagan, J. (2015). Evidence-based relationship practice: Enhancing counselor competence. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 37(2), 95-108. https://meridian.allenpress.com/jmhc/article-abstract/37/2/95/83310
Stephen, S. (2023). Congruent functioning: the continuing resonance of Rogers’ theory. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 1-20. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14779757.2022.2164334
Sutanti, N. (2020). Understanding congruence in person-centred counselling practice: A trainee counsellor’s perspective. ProGCouns: Journal of Professionals in Guidance and Counseling, 1(2), 47-55. https://journal.uny.ac.id/index.php/progcouns/article/view/34615
Sutanti, N. (2020). Understanding congruence in person-centred counselling practice: A trainee counsellor’s perspective. ProGCouns: Journal of Professionals in Guidance and Counseling, 1(2), 47-55. https://journal.uny.ac.id/index.php/progcouns/article/view/34615
Vlaicu, A. (2022). The Philosophical Counselor and Unconditional Positive Regard. International Journal of Philosophical Practice, 8(1), 65-78. https://www.pdcnet.org/ijpp/content/ijpp_2022_0008_0001_0065_0078
Woodward, L., 2020. Carl Rogers. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Models and Theories, pp.95-99. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2020-20319-001 

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