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A longitudinal analysis of person-centred therapy with suicidal clients

Sohal, Amrita; Murphy, David


Amrita Sohal

Professor of Psychology and Education


Background: There have been substantial research efforts demonstrating the effectiveness of person-centred therapy. However, little research has investigated whether person-centred therapy is effective in facilitating psychological growth amongst clients experiencing suicidal ideation and serious mental health difficulties. Aim: This study aimed to determine whether suicidal clients who received person-centred therapy experienced increased levels of authenticity, well-being and psychological distress. The predictive validity of authenticity and well-being upon psychological distress was also tested. Method: The study utilised quantitative, longitudinal methodology. Data were collected from a clinical sample of clients receiving person-centred therapy at a counselling research clinic (N=56) over the course of 20 sessions. Results: There were statistically significant improvements in levels of authenticity, well-being and psychological distress over 20 sessions of therapy; a minimum of 15 sessions were required for significant change to be observed. Authenticity and well-being were negatively associated with psychological distress, whilst authenticity and well-being were positively associated with each other. Early authenticity and well-being predict levels of distress later in therapy. These results provide initial evidence to support Rogers' theory of therapy, which is suitable for clients experiencing both mild and severe distress; the findings refute the view that person-centred therapy is only suitable for the “worried well.”. Implications: There is now preliminary justification for person-centred therapy being suitable for suicidal clients. Person-centred therapists could consider offering suicidal clients at least 15 sessions to achieve meaningful change; ethical considerations pertaining to this are explored.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 16, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 10, 2022
Publication Date 2023-03
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 13, 2022
Journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
Print ISSN 1473-3145
Electronic ISSN 1746-1405
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 20-30
Keywords Psychiatry and Mental health; Applied Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 2022-01-10; Accepted: 2022-09-16; Published: 2022-10-10


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