Pluralistic Therapy

CREST Pluralistic Therapy


Pluralism is a way of thinking about therapy that has emerged in recent years. It is based on the assumption that no one therapeutic approach has the monopoly on understanding the causes of distress or on the most helpful therapeutic responses. Instead, it suggests that different clients are likely to want -- and benefit from -- different things in therapy. Hence, it suggests that therapists should be open to respecting understandings and practices from across the counselling and psychotherapy spectrum. Given this emphasis on tailoring therapy to the individual client, a pluralistic approach also emphasises shared decision making and metatherapeutic communication: talking to clients about the process of therapy itself, including what they want from it and how they would like to try and get there. Pluralism can be a way of thinking about therapy, or it can be a specific practice in which the therapist draws on a range of different understandings and methods. As the latter, it can be considered a form of integrative therapy, in which there is a particular emphasis on collaboration and negotiation across the client-therapist relationship.

Current projects

  • Evaluation of pluralistic therapy for depression
  • Pluralistic therapy for young people with addiction issues
  • Development of the Goals Form
  • Development of the Therapy Personalisation Form


  • Rijn, Bv,. Mick Cooper,M. Jackson,A. Wild,C. Avatar-based therapy within prison settings; pilot evaluation. 
  • 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. Cooper, M, & Dryden, W. (eds) (2016) The handbook of pluralistic counselling and psychotherapy, London: Sage. Cooper, M. (2015) Existential psychotherapy and counselling: Contributions to a pluralistic practice. London: Sage.
  • McLeod, J., & Cooper, M. (2015). Pluralistic counselling and psychotherapy. In S. Palmer (Ed.), Counselling and psychotherapy: The essential guide. 2nd ed. London: Sage.
  • McLeod, J., McLeod, J., Cooper, M., & Dryden, W. (2014). Pluralistic therapy. In A. Reeves & W. Dryden (Eds.), Handbook of individual therapy (6th ed., pp. 547-573). London: Sage.
  • Omylinska-Thurston, J., & Cooper, M. (2014). Helpful processes in psychological therapy for patients with primary cancers: A qualitative interview study. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 14: 2, 84-92.
  • Simonsen, G., & Cooper, M. (2014). Helpful aspects of bereavement counselling: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.
  • Wallace, K., & Cooper, M. (2014). Development of supervision personalisation forms: A qualitative study of the dimensions along which supervisors’ practices vary. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.
  • 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.
  • Revell, S., Duncan, E., & Cooper, M. (2013). Helpful aspects of outdoor therapy experiences: An online preliminary investigation. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.
  • 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.
  • Lynass, R., Pykhtina, O., & Cooper, M. (2012). A thematic analysis of young people’s experience of counselling in five secondary schools across the UK. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 12(1), 53-62.
  • 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). Pluralistic counselling and psychotherapy. London: Sage.
  • Cooper, M., & McLeod, J. (2011). Person-centered therapy: A pluralistic perspective. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 10(3), 210-223.
  • McLeod, J., & Cooper, M. (2011). A protocol for systematic case study research in pluralistic counselling and psychotherapy. Counselling Psychology Review, 26(4), 47-58.
  • Cooper, M., & McLeod, J. (2010). Pluralism: Towards a new paradigm for therapy. Therapy Today, 21(9), 10-14.
  • Cooper, M., & McLeod, J. (2007). A pluralistic framework for counselling and psychotherapy: Implications for research. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 7(3), 135-143.

Cooper, M. (2012) Unpublished monograph: A hierarchy of wants: Towards an integrative framework for counselling, psychotherapy and social change.

Recent projects

2012-2014 BPS, Division of Counselling Psychology. Evaluation of pluralistic therapy for depression (with UWE, University of Abertay and Metanoia Institute): qualitative/helpful factors and quantitative (outcomes) analysis.

2012-2014 Development and testing of pluralistic measures and tools: Goals Form, Therapy/Supervision Personalisation Inventories


2014 (July) Championing diversity within psychotherapy and counselling: Person-centred pluralism, 11th World Conference on Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counselling, Buenos Aries, Argentina. [downloadable pdf]

2014 (Apr) Using systematic feedback in counselling with children and young people, European Association of Counselling Annual Conference, Valetta, Malta. [downloadable pdf]

2014 (Mar) Pluralistic counselling, Irish Association of Counselling AGM, Dublin. [downloadable pdf]

2012 (June) Process mapping: Representing multiple change experiences in counselling and psychotherapy, UKCP 3rd Annual Research Conference, London. [downloadable pdf]

Additional resources

Potential research projects

  • Development and testing of pluralistic measures: Goals Form, Personalisation Inventories
  • Shared decision-making: Qualitative/quantitative studies
  • Development and piloting of pluralistic therapy for different groups of clients (e.g., older adults, young people with family problems)
  • Helpful/unhelpful aspects of therapy for different client groups
  • Pathways of change for different client groups/problems/goals

Theme coordinator

Mick Cooper