Genuineness and Congruence

Genuineness and congruence describe the ability to be authentic in the helping relationship. The ability to be real as opposed to artificial, to behave as one feels as opposed to playing the role of the helper, and to be congruent in terms of actions and words are further descriptors of this core condition. According to Schnellbacher and Leijssen (2009),

The findings underline the significance and value of genuineness in communication with the client. Indeed, the results indicate that therapist genuineness can be a crucial process for healing and personality change and that self-disclosure can be powerful and directional interventions. (pp. 222-223)

Implicit in this statement is the idea of the counselor's ability to communicate and demonstrate this genuineness, not only for relationship enhancement but also to model this core condition so that clients can develop greater authenticity in their interactions with others.

Personal characteristics or behaviors that enhance a counselor's or therapist's ability to prove genuineness and congruence include, but are not limited to, the following:

• The capacity for self-awareness and the ability to demonstrate this capacity through words and actions.

• The understanding of one's own motivational patterns and the ability to use them productively in the helping relationship.

• The ability to present one's thoughts, feelings, and actions in a consistent, unified, and honest manner.

• The capacity for self-confidence and the ability to communicate this capacity in a facilitative way in the helping relationship.


Concreteness is the ability not only to see the incomplete picture that clients paint with their words but also to communicate to clients the figures, images, and structures that will complete the picture. In the process of exploring problems or issues, clients often present a somewhat distorted view of the actual situation. Concreteness enables the counselor or therapist to help clients identify the distortions in the situation and fit them together in such a way that clients are able to view the situation in a more realistic fashion. The concreteness helps clients clarify vague issues, focus on specific topics, reduce degrees of ambiguity, and channel their energies into more productive avenues of problem solution.

Personal characteristics and behaviors that enhance a counselor's or therapist's ability to provide degrees of concreteness include, but are not limited to, the following:

• The capacity for abstract thinking and the ability to "read between the lines."

• The willingness to risk being incorrect as one attempts to fill in the empty spaces.

• The belief in one's own competence in analyzing and sorting through the truths and partial truths in clients' statements.

• The ability to be objective while working with clients in arriving at the reality of clients' situations.

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