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Gardening and Humanistic Psychotherapy

A successful metaphore

The metaphor of growing potato plants has been used by Rogers (1980) to describe the process of psychotherapy. The metaphor is particularly suitable for Humanistic Psychotherapy, where the therapist aims to offer the most appropriate conditions for the client to grow and develop. What are those conditions? Rogers teach us that self-development happens when we are offered:​

  • Unconditional Positive Regard
  • Empathy 
  • Congruence

The plant will always turn towards the light. The plant will grow deeper roots if the water is not immediately available. It will strengthen its stem if left out in the wind. In the same way humans develop with unfavourable conditions, using the resources they have available.

What’s remarkable is that the plant still grows, despite poor conditions. So the therapist needs to be equipped with the right tools to offer a good service. The practitioner will offer the conditions that the plant so desperately needs to thrive and flourish.

Rogers, C. (1980). A Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.