This workshop will introduce, and look at the practical implications of, a pluralistic approach to counselling, psychotherapy and psychological practice. This framework was developed with John McLeod in the 2000s, and has since been adopted by a number of practitioners and training institutes across the UK and internationally. The pluralistic approach is a collaborative, integrative perspective, deeply rooted in humanistic and person-centred values. Its fundamental premise is that each client is unique, and therefore may need different things from therapy. On this basis, the pluralistic approach creates a framework in which practitioners can integrate a wide variety of understandings and methods into their practice. A key element of this pluralistic approach is shared decision making: talking to clients about what they want from therapy, and how they might most effectively be helped to get there.


Learning outcomes

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the basic principles of a pluralistic approach to counselling and psychotherapy

  • Recognise evidence and arguments that support, and challenge, a personalised approach to therapy

  • Explain the ways in which they are able to help clients, and the methods they use to facilitate this

  • Critically discuss the strengths, and limits, of 'metatherapeutic communication': talking to clients about what they want from therapy

  • Apply basic methods of metatherapeutic communication

  • Critically evaluate the use of process and outcome measures in therapeutic practice



  • Session 1: Introduction to pluralistic therapy: What it is and why it might be helpful

  • Session 2: Self-reflection: What I offer clients and how I do that

  • Session 3: Metatherapeutic communication: Talking to clients about what they want from therapy

  • Session 4: Using measures to enhance pluralistic practice



This workshop is typically delivered as a one day event. However, a more extended version of this course can be delivered over two to five days.

The workshop combines self-development exercises, theoretical input, practical exercises, and small and large group discussion.

The workshop is appropriate for training and practising counsellors, psychotherapists, counselling psychologists and other mental health professionals.






Research publications

Cooper, M., Norcross, J. C., Raymond-Barker, B., & Hogan, T. P. (2019). Psychotherapy preferences of laypersons and mental health professionals: Whose therapy is it? Psychotherapy. doi: 10.1037/pst0000226

Swift, J. K., Callahan, J. L., Cooper, M., & Parkin, S. R. (2019). The impact of accommodation client preferences in psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20759

Cooper, M., & Knox, R. (2018). Therapists’ self-reported chronic strategies of disconnection in everyday life and in counselling and psychotherapy: an exploratory study. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 46(2), 185-200. doi: 10.1080/03069885.2017.1343457

Papayianni, F., & Cooper, M. (2018). Metatherapeutic communication: an exploratory analysis of therapist-reported moments of dialogue regarding the nature of the therapeutic work. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 46(2), 173-184. doi: 10.1080/03069885.2017.1305098

Antoniou, P., Cooper, M., Tempier, A., & Holliday, C. (2017). Helpful aspects of pluralistic therapy for depression. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 17(2), 137-147. doi: 10.1002/capr.12116

Cooper, M., McConnachie, A., Messow, C.-M., Freire, E., Elliott, R., Heard, D., . . . Morrison, J. (2017). Patient preference as a predictor of outcomes in a pilot trial of person-centred counselling versus low-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy for persistent sub-threshold and mild depression. Counselling Psychology Quarterly. doi: 10.1080/09515070.2017.1329708

Thompson, A., Cooper, M., & Pauli, R. (2017). Development of a therapists’ self-report measure of pluralistic thought and practice: the Therapy Pluralism Inventory. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 45: 5, 489-499. doi: 10.1080/03069885.2017.1373745

Cooper, M., & Norcross, J. C. (2016). A Brief, Multidimensional Measure of Clients' Therapy Preferences: The Cooper-Norcross Inventory of Preferences (C-NIP). International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 16(1), 87-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ijchp.2015.08.003

Cooper, M., Wild, C., Rijn, B. v., Ward, T., McLeod, J., Cassar, S., . . . Sreenath, S. (2015). Pluralistic therapy for depression: Acceptability, outcomes and helpful aspects in a multisite study. Counselling Psychology Review, 30(1), 6-20.

Wallace, K., & Cooper, M. (2015). Development of supervision personalisation forms: A qualitative study of the dimensions along which supervisors’ practices vary. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 15(1), 31-40.

Cooper, M., Stewart, D., Sparks, J. A., & Bunting, L. (2013). School-based counseling using systematic feedback : a cohort study evaluating outcomes and predictors of change. Psychotherapy Research, 23(4), 474-488.

Bowen, M., & Cooper, M. (2012). Development of a client feedback tool: a qualitative study of therapists’ experiences of using the Therapy Personalisation Forms. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 14, 47-62.

Cooper, M., & McLeod, J. (2012). From either/or to both/and: Developing a pluralistic approach to counselling and psychotherapy. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 14(1), 5-18.

Thompson, A., & Cooper, M. (2012). Therapists’ experiences of pluralistic practice. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 14(1), 63-76.

Watson, V., Cooper, M., McArthur, K., & McLeod, J. (2012). Helpful therapeutic processes: A pluralistic analysis of client activities, therapist activities and helpful effects. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 14(1), 77-90.

Cooper, M., & McLeod, J. (2011). Person-centered therapy: A pluralistic perspective. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 10(3), 210-223.

Cooper, M. (2009). Welcoming the Other: Actualising the humanistic ethic at the core of counselling psychology practice. Counselling Psychology Review, 24(3&4), 119-129.

Cooper, M., & McLeod, J. (2007). A pluralistic framework for counselling and psychotherapy: Implications for research. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 7(3), 135-143.



Mick demonstrates setting goals with a client, which can be a key element of pluralistic practice

Mick discussing pluralistic therapy in 2011

In this short video, Mick Cooper outlines some of the key principles of Pluralism with Tony Ward at the University of the West of England

Interview with Mick on pluralism and practice by Alexandre Vaz, as part of the 'Psychotherapy Expert Talks' series

John McLeod talking to Edith Steffen about the pluralistic approach, 19th Feb 2018


Follow up Q & A with John Mcleod on the pluralistic approach, including 'How can pluralism be embedded in training practice?' and 'What is the role of the unconscious in pluralistic therapy?'