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Articles and Comment

Webinar summary | The Implications of Psychotherapeutic Communication Models to Teaching Patient-centred Communication Skills


August 2023 | Articles and Comment | Communication | Discussion | EALTHY Blog | Language | Webinar summary | Webinars 2023

Ros Wright interviewed Ernest Bowels, a counselling psychotherapist, about the nature of communication, the role of metaphor and patient-centred approach in a therapeutic session.


The webinar will be of interest to all healthcare professionals, teachers, and trainers who teach clinical communication skills. Ernest talked about communication models and approaches which might not be known to language teachers and other professionals outside of therapeutic settings. For this reason, this webinar summary provides a brief background on theories by Carl Rogers and David Grove.

According to Ernest, the quality of the therapeutic relationship is a fundamental aspect of positive therapy. He described the concept of the client-centred (person-centred) approach, which is similar to the patient-centred approach. This model of communication was introduced to psychotherapy by Carl Rogers in the late 20th century. It allows the client to speak about themselves freely without the fear of being judged or directed by the therapist. “He believed that the experience of being understood and valued gives us freedom to grow, while pathology generally arises from attempting to earn others´ positive regard rather than following and inner compass” (McIeod, 2023). Another notion developed by Rogers is self or self-concept: “It encompasses an individual´s self-image (how they see themselves), self-esteem (how much value they place on themselves), and ideal self (the person they aspire to be)” (McIeod). In the article by McIeod, you can read more about other Roger´s notions such as self-worth, self- image vs. real self, ideal self, positive regard, and self-actualization.

With a non-judgemental, positive, open approach to a client´s thoughts and self-perception, the concept of clean language developed by David Grove in the 1980s and 1990s is described. It is a communication methodology, which “promotes better clarity of communications, neutrality and objectivity…, ease of understanding, and cooperative productive relationships” (Rees, 2023). In Ernest´s words, when a therapist uses clean language, they don´t influence a patient´s thoughts and ideas with personal perspectives and comments. It is an approach of exploring what the metaphor means for a patient (self-communication) and what the metaphor really refers to. “Clean language uses the casual metaphors that occur naturally in speech to reveal the hidden depth of our thought process. Clean language brings thoughts we have not been conscious of into our awareness, where they can be shared and enjoyed – and understood” (Rees). In the article by Rees, you can read more about the origin, principles of clean language concept, definition of metaphor, and examples of questions proposed by Grove.

Watch the webinar to find out more about what Ernest says about the following issues:

  • The nature of communication, information flow, verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Communication strategies such as showing empathy, using open questions, mirroring patient´s language, actively listening
  • The client-centred (person-centred) therapeutic model by Carl Rogers and how to develop such a relationship
  • The role of metaphor, internalized language, and the model of clean language in a therapeutic session by David Grove
  • Improving communication without fear in a therapeutic session
  • The issue of teaching non-verbal communication in online courses and how to deal with limitations in the online settings
  • How teachers and trainers can ensure that their students and OET candidates have the required level of communication skills


McIeod, S. (accessed August 2023). Carl Rogers Humanistic Theory And Contribution To Psychology. Simply Psychology. Available at:
Rees, J. (accessed August 2023). Clean Language: David Grove Questioning Method. Business Balls. Available at: