Whilst dwelling on what to add to my increasing list of therapeutic blogs I thought it made sense to include some information on the different approaches to counselling with a little bit about my own experiences of this approach whilst working with clients. Whilst this blog focuses on the ‘person centred’ approach to counselling, do watch out for other blogs to follow- each covering a simple to read view on the different counselling approaches; psychodynamic approach, CBT and more!
If you have any questions or comments do feel free to get in touch!
So what is the person centred approach?
The person centred approach is a humanistic view to therapy and was developed by Carl Rogers in the 1950’s. This particular approach sees humans as having the innate ability to develop to their potential and is very much client led where- through the right conditions and the support of the counsellor- clients are able to explore their potential and any blockages that may be preventing them from reaching their potential.
One of the strengths of the person centred approach to counselling is how it encompasses a positive humanistic view of human nature; Focusing on a client’s potential for change rather than extensively analysing the past. Carl Rogers believed that a person could reach their self-actualising tendency in the right environment through relying on their internal resources. For example, the core conditions of the person centred approach are empathy (understanding another’s point of view) Congruence (being real and genuine) and unconditional positive regard. (The therapist accepting the client’s personality warmly without being uncomfortable) Some particular ‘words of wisdom’, that a teacher once emphasised on as being important to counselling, was the significance of the working ‘relationship’ with the client. I think back now to previous clients whilst working as a therapist and whilst the approach may have been different at the time, the actual concept of ‘unconditional positive regard’ really made sense. I can understand how ‘rapport’ or a good relationship between therapist and client can do wonders during the therapeutic process of change and how personally, having a good working relationship with the client has really helped with creative positive change in them.
Another advantage is that all of the core conditions of the person centred approach are very positive and encourages a client to strive towards their own personal self-development. In addition, I found this approach to be non-judgemental and as this approach is client led, this means that the therapist avoids unnecessary interpretation.
One limitation about the person centred approach was its lack of direction and structure. For example, I often had to pause whilst working with these client case studies, as the person centred approach view is that the client was an ‘expert’ in their live- with the support of the therapist it is upto the client to lead.
. I believe the person centred approach requires a lot of patience and thoughtful prompting as this approach is client led- therefore it is upto the client to explore potential solutions to their problems. (With guidance from me, the counsellor) Furthermore, I personally like the emphasise on mutual respect between client and counsellor in the person centred approach.
However, I did find it challenging at times when throughout my practice with clients there were times when clients may not have come up with solutions or advice that may be consistent with my own views of what deemed ‘right’. This can sometimes mean that clients may not always come up with the ‘right’ advice or solution. On the other hand this is what the person centred approach is about- allowing clients’s to gain a greater awareness through self-exploration- even if this means that this is not consistent with the therapist’s views. Who is to say the counsellor is always right!
A further advantage of the person centred approach is the sense of control it can give clients. This further empowers clients to make important decisions for themselves without being overly dependent on the counsellor.
Finally, another presenting challenge for me with regards to the person centred approach was the lack of structure and technique utilised. Its possbile that this field of counselling may not be suitable for clients who were not as motivated, offered short curt answers and often needed continuous prompting!
Overall the person centred approach places emphasise on the working relationship between client and therapist- something which I also agree is ingtegral to a sucessful therapeutic practice.