Dyspraxia and Person-Centred Counselling Part Two

In Part One I spoke about dyspraxia, a neurological disorder that is present from birth. I mentioned many of the difficulties that dyspraxic people encounter and I considered what it is like to live one’s life with this condition. Here in part two I will discuss counselling issues associated with dyspraxia and the benefits of person-centred counselling. In part three, I will provide information about other neuro-diverse conditions and helpful organisations.

Counselling Issues Relating to Dyspraxia

Typically a dyspraxic person struggles with everyday tasks. Related counselling issues include living with frustration, feelings of inadequacy, and being out of one's depth. All of this and fears around how one is perceived and judged by others can trigger anxiety and panic. A dyspraxic person may be angry with themselves for underachieving and angry with other people who do not understand their difficulties.

Frequent failure can lead to low self-confidence and low self-esteem. When dyspraxics find fitting in difficult, loneliness and a sense of not belonging can become counselling issues. Added to this dyspraxic children and adults may have to deal with bullying and labels such as lazy, stupid, naughty, immature and strange.


Talking to a qualified practitioner can help people to come to terms with past experiences and to address current issues including anxiety and sress. Counselling is an opportunity for clients to know themselves at a deeper level. With increased self-understanding, people can become more confident, perhaps more ready to take risks, and more capable of making decisions and changes in their lives. 

Person-Centred Counselling

Person-centred counsellors believe that we all have a natural tendency to develop our potential and to grow psychologically. They see their clients as the experts based upon the view that we know ourselves and our needs better than anyone else can. Therapists do not analyse or interpret clients; instead they are interested in how individuals understand themselves and their issues.

This approach can be empowering for dyspraxic clients who might have grown up with belittling labels such as ‘stupid’ and ’lazy’ and who experience difficulties and failures in accomplishing everyday tasks. Person-centred counselling can help people to value themselves and to have confidence in their personal views, thoughts and understandings.

Person-centred Counsellors provide a relationship which facilitates growth and healing. The relationship is based upon Rogers’ six conditions for psychological growth, (Rogers, C, 1957). The core conditions are:

·       Empathy  - deep understanding

·       Unconditional Positive Regard - accepting clients as they are, not judging them

·       Congruence - being honest, genuine and sincere


The counsellor understands from the client’s perspective.

Dyspraxia is not physically visible - you would not know that someone is dyspraxic just by looking at them. Some people might go through life hiding their difficulties, perhaps not even knowing that their struggles have been identified and formally named. Nonetheless, the obstacles  exist and people living with them can feel different and lonely.

 Person-centred counsellors want to have an in-depth understanding of what is like to be in their client’s position. There is an intention to experience their client’s reality as if it were their own, for example all the feelings that a client had when he could not unlock his own front door. This level of empathy indicates to clients that their feelings are understandable and recognizable. Actual differences are acknowledged and at the same time mutual understandings of the feelings can draw attention to commonality. The counsellor' companionship can reduce the client's isolation and loneliness. 

Unconditional Positive Regard

Consistently having an accepting, respectful and warm attitude towards clients, regardless of what they say, think or do. Holding this attitude does not necessitate liking what is said or done, it is a non-judgmental acceptance of the person themselves.

A person with dyspraxia can find it difficult to accept themselves, their difficulties and their condition. They may have a history of being misunderstood and criticized and they might have endured ridicule, bullying and other people’s unaccepting judgments.

When we are genuinely accepted and respected it becomes easier to accept and respect ourselves. Acceptance and respect challenge negative judgments. 

Acceptance and valuing of the client is also demonstrated by the cousellor's attentiveness, desire to understand, respectful attitude and warmth.

Genuineness also known as Congruence

Counsellor’s are aware of what they are experiencing whilst with clients and share anything that seems helpful and appropriate. They are honest and sincere.

For a counsellor to say something understanding or accepting without meaning it would be both pointless and disrespectful. Person-centred counsellors strive to be aware of how they are feeling so that everything they say is real and honest. A genuine counsellor can be trusted and this is most important. Their acceptance is real.Why would clients share their hopes, fears, anger shame and so on with anyone whom they do not consider to be entirely trustworthy?

For more information about the person-centred approach please visit www.bapca.org.uk

Carl Rogers(1957), The Necessary and sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change.


Anonymous said...

I am currently studying neurological disorders in one of my assignments this has been very useful as it touches on the therapy that one may undergo in order to deal with this condition. This blog also highlights that such therapys can be key to help people,
at present a lot of patients suffering from neurological disorders are pushed onto medications or neurological disorders can lead on to other disorders such as depression and like your blog pointed it out confidence which slows a persons progression through life. Thank you for the good insight on neurological disorders, this has helped me have a great understanding on the impact dyspraxia can have on people
All the best with part 3
Talisha :)

Paula Newman said...

Dear Anonymous, I am pleased that my blog has been helpful. Thank you for your comment.

Lester Chern said...

Hi Paula
As a practising counsellor, I found both your articles extremely interesting. Most people nowadays are aware of dyslexia and it's effects are more visible. However, dyspraxia appears to be a hidden disability and thus your article about it's dehabilitating effects was extremely informative.
It really increased my understanding of what trials and tribulations my dyspraxic clients go through.
You have a very clear writing style which I enjoyed as well. I look forward to part 3.

Paula Newman said...

Dear Lester,
Thank you very much for your comments, it is helpful to hear from a counsellor. I'm pleased that you like my writing style.