Counselling in Oxfordshire

Bill Imlah :: Counselling in Oxfordshire

Blog » Why is acceptance important in our work together?

6 Jan 2011

Acceptance is an attitude of non-judgemental warmth that's core to working as a counsellor.

It means my accepting you exactly as you are, as a separate person entitled to your own feelings and experiences. It means my being willing and able to let you be in touch with whatever feeling is going on for you in the moment – fear, pride, anger, hostility, confusion.

That doesn’t mean that as a counsellor I'm free of values and beliefs of my own. That would be impossible, and to pretend so would be phoney. So my acceptance of others shouldn’t be confused with always finding their behaviour acceptable. It simply means that I see them as a human being of intrinsic value. It means being able to believe that each person is all right deep-down.

This is comparable with the situation early in life, where a parent may say to a child “I don’t like what you’re doing, but I still love you.” Unfortunately many of us have the opposite experience as children, and can grow up with the sense that our acceptance by others is conditional on us behaving a certain way, expressing certain views, hiding aspects of ourselves that we have been conditioned to be ashamed of, or to deny, even to ourselves.

"the attitudes towards others and towards ourselves, far from being contradictory, are basically conjunctive ... this means: love for others and love for ourselves are not alternatives."  - Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving 

When people experience real acceptance by others, they tend to become more accepting of themselves, more at ease with themselves, and more confident in their own abilities to cope.


“I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person. I have found that truly accepting another person and his feeling is by no means an easy thing, any more than is understanding. Can I really permit another person to feel hostile towards me? Can I accept his anger as a real and legitimate part of himself? Can I accept him when he views life and its problems in a way quite different from mine? Can I accept him when he feels very positively towards me, admiring me, and wanting to model himself after me? All this is involved in acceptance, and it does not come easy.”             – Carl Rogers



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