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Aug 2015 by PCI College

Bite-Sized Book Review: The Mystical Power of Person Centered Therapy by Brian Thorne

Clare Burke PCI Lecturer reviews The Mystical Power of Person Centered Therapy by Brian Thorne

This book written by Brian Thorne was published in 2002. The content is certainly intriguing, but it is the effortless writing that is most memorable for me. The writer glides through sentences seamlessly expressing his ideas. Such gliding captures the notoriously evasive nature of the central character of spirituality. The respect and dedication paid to Carl Rogers is educational and deeply moving at times. The writer is unrelenting in his admiration for the work of the forefather of person centered counselling. The focus is primarily on the latter part of the working life of Rogers, namely the transition to considering the spiritual realm in his work with clients.



It is reassuring to read such elegant insights into the possibilities of the mysterious, the magical, the spiritual entering the sacred terrain of the counselling room. It is a pleasurable experience to read about something that transcends reason and logic. Chapters four and five are particularly thought provoking.


Thorne introduces in chapter four Reverend Peter Owen Jones who published his own personal diaries in a book entitled Small Boat, Big Sea (2000). There are several extracts from this book which are refreshingly honest takes on his religious life, on life itself, on human nature and of course on spirituality. I particularly like this sentiment from Jones; "There seems to be an overriding obsession to please, not to offend anyone-we have become soulless and saltless in the process. We are playing politicians' cards, but we are not politicians, we are priests, we govern nothing...Jesus Christ did not avoid conflict, he actually embraced it..." (p.35). The prevalence of obsession with pleasing and an avoidance of conflict are two what I would call 'anti spiritual' states of being so commonly experienced by clients, hence why this excerpt made a lot of sense to me.


Conflict is evidently a response Thorne envisaged when writing this book, even from his own tribe of person centered therapists. Delving into a discussion of the spiritual realm can create discomfort and uneasiness in some counsellors. It seems to challenge those who want evidence and reason. I must admit I like evidence and reason, but fortunately for those students who will join me in the upcoming spiritual and pastoral counselling module, I also like mystery and magic. There is both in this book, it has credible references to a spiritual component in the work with clients, whilst also allowing for the intangible to be left alone without too much analysis.


I was also really inspired by Thorne's exploration in chapter five regarding the spiritual discipline of the counsellor. He speaks to the power of self love and how it is vital for the person centered counsellor to love ones self. He suggests that surely a belief in the loving heart of the cosmos (whether that's God or not) is reassuring and hopeful. He argues that nurturing the body is a vital aspect of a spiritual discipline which has at its core a quest for and commitment to self love.


He is firm in his suggestion that clients will learn quickly about how well the counsellor loves themselves by how they present themselves to the world in their appearance, self respect, and attitude to their physical body. So even though we pontificate at times about self care, it seems according to Thorne, proving that we practice what we preach is a more effective method of communicating this message.

As you can gather, I like this book, I like the message, I like the authenticity and I really like the writing.



Clare Burke  (Aug 2015)

PCI Lecturer 




Clare will facilitate a Certificate in spirituality at PCI College begining on 21st August 2015 in Dublin City Centre. This Certificate in spirituality is split between two weekend and is aimed to help trainees and qualified counsellors explore the spiritual aspect of the person. For more information on this course and how to book click here.  


What our Students Say

I most sincerely enjoyed the mindfulness meditation that we all did together towards the end of the workshop. It was really soothing and a positive finish to the day.
Positive Psychology Attendee

What our Students Say

"Feedback from participants of the Professional CBT training held in the Family Life Centre Boyle was extremely positive. It was experienced as valuable in equipping the students with the knowledge and skills of the CBT approach. It was carried out in an atmosphere most conducive to learning. Working with PCI College has proved to be a valuable partnership.”
Denise O’Dowd, Boyle Family Life Centre - Tailor-Made Training
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