• Paula Newman

Dyspraxia and Person-Centred Counselling

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

'As a child I frequently bumped into things and tripped over. The other children laughed so I pretended that I was being clumsy on purpose'

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition. Whilst the exact causes of dyspraxia are not yet fully understood, it is thought that parts of the motor cortex in the brain are immature and consequently messages to the body are not sent out in an efficient manner. Developmental dyspraxia is present from birth.

People with dyspraxia experience a combination of the challenges below with varying degrees of severity:

Clumsiness affecting gross motor skills such as walking, running and jumping, and fine motor skills such as writing, using tools, and moving one’s tongue to form words.

Judging the speed and distance of traffic.

Managing sports that require coordination, balance and judging distance.

A poor sense of direction which can limit independence especially when it is also hard to understand travel directions and to read maps.

Forming and articulating ideas. Whilst speaking key words may be forgotten.

Difficulty organising a room, diary, finances, study and thoughts.

Struggling to recognise familiar faces and voices.

Literal thinking and not getting the joke.

Difficulty controlling emotions panicking and becoming overwhelmed. Afterwards there might be feelings of embarrassment and shame.

Being accused of laziness, not trying, and being unintelligent.

Experiencing one’s self as different and having difficulties fitting in. This can lead to sadness, depression, despair, frustration and anger, and can undermine self-confidence and self-esteem.

Counselling involves working with the emotional effects of dyspraxia

Person-centred counsellors believe that we all have a natural tendency to develop our potential and to grow psychologically. Clients are viewed as experts based upon the view that each of us knows ourselves and our needs better than anyone else can. Therapists are interested in how individuals understand and experience themselves and their issues.

This attitude is empowering for clients and can be very helpful for those who experience frequent difficulties and failures. Person-centred counselling helps people to be self-accepting and to have confidence in their personal views, thoughts and perceptions.

Counselling provides a relationship which facilitates psychological growth, healing and living life in a way is satisfying to the individual. The relationship is based upon Carl Rogers’ six conditions for psychological growth. The core conditions are:


A dyspraxic person may feel different, isolated, misunderstood and lonely. Person-centred counsellors seek to have an in-depth understanding of what is like to be in their client’s shoes. 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. The counsellor is a companion, accompanying the client in his or her explorations. Empathic understanding and companionship may reduce the isolating effects of dyspraxia.

Unconditional Positive Regard

The therapist has an unconditional accepting, respectful and warm attitude towards the client. A person with dyspraxia may find it difficult to accept themselves, their difficulties and their condition. They might have endured ridicule, bullying and other people’s judgments. Being genuinely accepted and respected challenges other people's critical messages . Clients can explore their own attitudes and self judgments.

Congruence, also known as genuinness

Person-centred counsellors strive to be aware of what they are experiencing whilst they are with clients. This helps the counsellor to be honest and openly themself in the relationahip and to offer their sincere understandings, acceptance and warmth. Openness, sincerity and genuinness create a trustworthy relationship and a safe environment for clients to explore and express their thoughts and emotions.

Contact Paula Newman
Counsellor, Supervisor, Focusing trainer

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