Internal Locus of Evaluation
In his famous book, On Becoming a Person, Carl Rogers talks about the “Locus of Evaluation” (or the perceived source of values) from two perspectives, that of the client, and that of the therapist. He supports a view that the therapist’s task is to think and empathise with the client within the client’s own frame of reference, respecting the client’s own valuing process.  This, he says, facilitates the client’s ability to develop their own internal locus of evaluation. This Rogers says is perhaps the most fundamental condition of creativity.
Developing an internal locus of evaluation is an important goal in the psychotherapeutic process, enabling the client to live their life more creatively, as an agent of their own desire for themselves.
Having an internal locus of evaluation is also a great help if you are thinking about starting your own practice. I was thinking about this during the week, as I prepared to talk to some newly qualified therapists about starting their practices. And although many may disagree that starting and developing a therapy practice is a creative process, I feel strongly that creativity is a key factor in any
business development, large or small.
I have spoken before about the pillars of a successful therapy practice. Let’s look at how a strong internal locus of evaluation might relate to each pillar:
Owning Your Practice: This pillar is concerned with commitment, responsibility and purpose. The mindset needed is one of a willingness to take action and to take risks in pursuit of the goal of establishing your own practice. If we are used to looking to others for direction or approval, we will find it hard to step into the energy of taking charge of our own business and taking the action necessary. When we meet the disagreement or disapproval of others, our confidence will ebb away, and we will draw back from our goals. If we have always been employed by someone else, then, in a work context, we are used to working from an external locus, as our employer will define our role, our reward and the conditions under which we work.
Knowing Your Practice: This pillar is concerned with creating an identity and a vision for your practice, and the mindset needed is a willingness to make choices about what we want and don’t want. If our needs and desires are easily put aside in favour of keeping the peace or to give priority to the desires or needs of others, we will find it hard to hold our own vision of the practice we want to create long enough for it to become a reality.
Growing Your Practice: This pillar is concerned with creating a practice that has the potential to grow from a sapling into a mature tree, or from survival in the short term to prosperity in the long term. The mindset needed is a willingness to be visible enough to enable potential clients to find us. If we equate visibility with a lack of security, because we expect others to react negatively, we will find it hard to move beyond the insecure, survival stage of growth.
Managing Your Practice: This fourth pillar is concerned with creating processes and structure that support the orderly running of a professional practice. A lack of management in any business creates risks to the reputation, the income and ultimately the survival of the business. If we find it difficult to give priority to the tasks and chores that keep a practice ticking over, and find ourselves prioritising our client work, there is a danger that we undermine our viability.
Minding Your Practice: This pillar is concerned with boundaries and self-care. Like locking our front door or keeping our valuables in a safe place, this pillar ensures we safeguard the most valuable asset we have – ourselves. If we neglect this important task to satisfy how others think we should be, we lose touch with the essence of who we are, which is ultimately the ground of our client work.
Valuing Your Practice: This last pillar is by no means the least important. It is concerned with worthiness and our willingness to receive. If our self-worth is grounded in how others perceive us, we will always struggle to earn a fair fee for the work we do. If we value our service to clients purely in terms of the benefit to the client, and do not allow ourselves to be rewarded or appreciated for our contribution, we will find it difficult to weather the failures and the setbacks.
In short, we need to be a little bit selfish about our own affairs, because our own internal locus of evaluation is a cornerstone of all aspects of our work in the practice (ie with clients) and on the practice (ie the business aspects.)
 On Becoming a Person, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1995, pg 248
 On Becoming a Person, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1995, pg 354