The Tyranny of Hope and the Transformative Tendency

Manu Bazzano

Despite its naturalistic adherence to organismic experiencing, person-centred therapy has been from the start the receptacle of second-hand metaphysics.  These are evident in some of its formulations – e.g. the notion of the formative tendency. The latter, 'observed in stellar space, in crystals, in micro-organisms, in more complex organic life, and in human beings' (Rogers, 1980, p. 133), is a teleological model of organic development, according to which there is an essential order that directs development towards an ultimately good end.
As with all second–hand metaphysics, the formative tendency is a shadow of God, the powerful other that in some disguise or other will come to our rescue. This model is the foundation for hope; it manifests via anthropocentric attribution of a purpose to existence and benevolent designs to the passage of time. Historically, however, hope has been the basis for tyranny. With the current rise of populism, bigotry and the far-right in many parts of the world, with the rise of oppression by class, race, age, ability, sexual orientation or gender identity, hope provides a beautiful daydream we can indulge in instead of being involved in transformative action.
Other evolutionary theories that capitalize, among other things, on quantum physics, speak of active and reactive natural forces. While reactive forces are merely adaptive, active forces delight in the affirmation of difference. PCT can be revitalized by greater alignment with active rather than reactive forces. In order to do this, we would need to leave behind the (transcendental) formative tendency in favour of the (immanent) 'transformative tendency' (Rud, 2016). This moment of transformation has no particular aim or purpose. It is 'actualizing', but its creative, delightful subversiveness is simply the playground of active forces, a place where we can learn to recognize and encourage active forces in individuals and societies.

  • Manu Bazzano, United Kingdom
    Person-centred therapist/supervisor. Studied eastern meditation since 1980, ordained in the Soto/Rinzai traditions of Zen in 2004. Author/editor of many books including Zen & Therapy, After Mindfulness, Therapy& the Counter-tradition, Revisioning Person-centred Therapy and Nietzsche and Psychotherapy. Lecturer at the University of Roehampton, London.

Listening as Being: Alternative to Hope

Art Bohart

The poet Robinson Jeffers said that "hope is not for the wise." On the other hand, Alexandre Dumas said that all human wisdom is contained in the words "wait and hope." In this talk I will consider whether it is wise to hope. I will suggest that to hope often puts one in the position of dealing with the issue of how much one can control life. This in turn can create pessimism and hopelessness. By contrast I will propose a process view of living. This view focuses more on "flowing along with the changes." It focuses on responsive listening to life, trying to find the harmonies in the moment, trying to be open to what presents itself, listening to opportunities when they present themselves, rather than on trying to predict and control. It is a form of being present-centered or present-focused. I will also distinguish between it and dysfunctional ways of being present-centered or present-focused. Life, ultimately, becomes "waiting," "listening," and participating, co-creating, and "sharing the commons. " This is not a passive way of being. However it is active in a different sense than we often think of being active.

  • Art Bohart, USA
    Retired professor emeritus, co-author or co-editor of How Clients Make Therapy Work, Empathy Reconsidered, Humanity’s Dark Side, Constructive and Destructive Behavior. His work has focused on the client as active self healer and empathy. Currently completing a three-tier autobiographical novel which he is using to say all the things he has wanted to say over the years.

Traumatized and bereaved clients: can we give them hope?

Ton Coffeng

When encountering clients, who suffered a loss or a trauma, hope is not the first association a therapist would have. Their sad stories do not invite to optimism.
Yet, the work with these clients is rewarding. The stories may be saddening, but the therapy process is full of perspective. I give examples from clients I had in the past.
Therapists can contribute to this positive development. I shall discuss some principles that are helpful. To mention a few: tendency to avoid; two chairs; roundabout; a place.
These principles provide a basis, enabling clients to settle. They are more important than techniques. Most concepts, I learned from Gendlin, Prouty, Bohart, and others. Some, I invented myself during therapies. They come from client-centered, experiential, and existential theory, from other orientations, and also from observing other therapists at work.
Probably, you also have ideas about it. I like to hear them in the discussion afterwards.

  • Ton Coffeng, Netherlands
    Psychiatrist, psychotherapist, has a private practice in the Netherlands. He is trainer, supervisor and learning therapist of the Neth.Ass. Client-c.Therapy (VPeP). He is also trainer of the Pre-Therapy Network. He has been trainer/coordinator of The Focusing Institute ,NY, and lecturer Trauma & Dissociation at the Univ.of Groningen. He published about Focusing, grouptherapy, grief, trauma and dissociation.

Hope and Hopelessness: An Emotion-Focused Perspective

Robert Elliott

The topic of hope is not something commonly discussed by emotion-focused therapists. I will certainly want to speak about it from several points of view and plan to examine both hope and hopelessness, its mirror image. I will want first to use the language and metaphors found in various languages to look at the phenomenology of hope and hopelessness, touching on key existential issues raised by people over the centuries as they have encountered experiences of hope and hopelessness.
Second, I will want to look seriously at hope and hopelessness from an emotion-focused therapy point of view, considering for example the issue that in EFT hopelessness is considered to be an emotion while hope is treated as a cognition. To remedy this, I will present an EFT formulation of hope as an important human emotion, including adaptive hope that helps us move forward in our lives in the face of uncertainties, secondary reactive hope (“whistling in the dark”), primary maladaptive hope (clinging stubbornly onto unresolved situations that cannot change), and instrumental hope (offered falsely out of sense of social duty or propriety).
Third, I would like discuss the role of hope in the change process in the severely socially anxious clients I've spent the last 10 years working with: people who come to therapy because their fear of other people has broken their main life projects and left them stuck and without hope. I would like to present some clinical case material from one of these clients and to track the emergence of hope in the course of their therapy, drawing on research data, mainly including qualitative descriptions from Change Interview and Helpful Aspects of Therapy data.
Finally, I would like to conclude by briefly considering some spiritual-psychological aspects of hope and hopelessness that I often draw on in my work with clients, including T.S. Eliot’s idea of “waiting without hope”.

  • Robert Elliott, United Kingdom
    Ph.D., is Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. He has been co-editor of the journal Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies. He is co-author of Learning Emotion-Focused Therapy and more than 150 publications. In 2008 he received the Carl Rogers Award from the Division of Humanistic Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

The challenges of the radical encounter within the urgent needs

Marcia Tassinari

Considering the high drop-out rate of clients from all kinds of individual psychotherapy, it seems reasonable to propose another way to deal with the psychological distress, mainly within the health institutions with people at socially disadvantaged backgrounds.  I intend to show that this high drop-out rate of clients doesn't mean psychotherapy is not working. In reality, it points out the need for changes in the classic paradigm from long process weekly individual psychotherapy within a neat and comfortable office to listening and understanding people wherever they are and being receptive to welcome any kind of need. Aligned with the theme of the PCE 2018 conference "Facilitating hope - personal and societal challenges" I propose the development of the psychological urgency clinic through the Psychological Guard Service (Plantão Psicológico). This kind of Service can be deployed in different contexts, even to a single encounter. In Brazil, we have this kind of practice since the 70’s, but only as of the last decade it has been practiced in many places like: general and psychiatric hospitals, elementary schools, in the streets, in favelas, in counseling centers, in private practice, in custody institutions, etc.  I also aim to present the main characteristics of this process through the core conditions Rogers proposed as well as from our new learnings, researches and practice.  The concept of psychological urgency clinic seems to perfect match with the urgent needs people have to be listened to in a non judgmental way. Finally, we intend to revisit and debate the concept of "radicality of the encounter" in order to think of an authentic relationship of psychological help. We can say that Rogers radicalized psychotherapy, widening its boundaries, and emphasizing the healing aspect of a good relationship. Now I would dare to propose that the Psychological Guard Service can, in fact, radicalize psychotherapy, widening its boundaries, leaving the private practice room and offering psychological help anywhere people are. The challenges my colleagues and I have faced working with socially disadvantaged people give us the dimension of the need to revise some misconceptions about healthy psychological functioning. I will present some examples that confirm our hope as health professionals to bring about social and psychological changes.

  • Marcia Alves Tassinari, Brazil
    Marcia Alves Tassinari, Brazilian, 66. I am a Person Centered Psychologist since 1975 with Master and Doctorate degree in Psychology, Specialization in Clinical Psychology, Professor at Santa Úrsula University. I have books, chapters and articles published in Brazil. I participate in many national and international PCA events since 1975.

The power of our radical premise meets the power of our deadly context: How hope is fostered by person-centered and gender theory

Carol Wolter-Gustafson

In order to explore the deep roots of hope that are embedded in our person-centered experiential legacy, we must first acknowledge that we do so in a dangerously dualistic social context. Too often, our cultural, political, economic, environmental, and humanitarian crises are cast in deadly “us” versus “them” terms. The deadliness of our dualistic context derives from our philosophical, theological, and linguist inheritance that ascribes greater power to one side of our binary beingness, at the expense of the other.
These constructed polarities, posing as fixed, immutable realities, can lead our clients and ourselves to feel dis-empowered and hopeless.  Fortunately, the radical and powerful premises of person-centered as well as gender theory reject toxic dualism and expand our capacity for hope.
There are three theoretical premises of our person-centered theory and practice, informed by recent gender scholarship, that foster hope. They are distinct and interrelated components of my thesis: 1) organismic integrity, as developed by Jules Seeman; 2) person-centered theory of gender, implicit in Carl Rogers’ seminal work and developed in my own; 3) embodied and process-based lived experience rooted in the fully functioning person, as developed by Eugene Gendlin.
Each of these premises rejects a decontextualized, privatized worldview. Rather, they draw us into collaboration with the inclusive forces of intersectionality and an embodied, healthful engagement with the world and strengthen our personal and social capacity for fostering hope.

  • Carol Wolter-Gustafson, USA
    Ed.D., is a person-centered educator, formerly of Lesley University, an author, and a psychotherapist. Her publications and lectures explore the social implications of PCA theory and issues of gender, embodiment, neuroscience, and power. She is committed to Going Global Workshops focusing on cultivating pathways out of the "us-versus-them" thinking that fuels violence locally and globally.