Person-centered therapy (also known as person-centered counselling or client-centered counselling) is a humanistic approach that deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously, rather than how a counsellor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas.
This theory (developed by Carl Rogers) ultimately sees human beings as having an innate tendency to develop towards their full potential. However, this ability can become blocked or distorted by our life experiences - particularly those that affect our sense of value.
The counsellor or psychotherapist works to understand an individual's experience from their point of view. The counsellor must positively value the client as a person in all aspects of their humanity, while aiming to be open and genuine. This is vital to helping an individual feel accepted and better understand their own feelings - essentially helping them to reconnect with their inner values and sense of self-worth. This reconnection with their inner resources enables them to find their own way to move forward.
The person-centred approach facilitates the personal growth and relationships of an individual by allowing them to explore and utilise their own strengths and personal identity. A person-centred counsellor will aid this process and provide vital support.
Carl Rogers stated that there are six necessary and sufficient conditions required for therapeutic change:
From the above, three of these conditions are known as the Core Conditions.
Rogers believed that a therapist/counsellor who embodies these three core conditions will help liberate their client to more confidently express their true feelings without fear of judgement.
The therapist is careful to avoid directly challenging their client's way of communicating themselves in the session in order to enable a deeper exploration of the issues most intimate to them and free from external referencing. Rogers believed that the answers to the patients' questions were within the patient and not the therapist. Accordingly, the therapists' role was to create a facilitative, empathic environment wherein the patient could discover the answers for him or herself.
Person-centered counselling can help individuals of all ages with a range of personal issues. Many people find it an appealing type of therapy because it allows them to keep control over the content and pace of sessions, and they do not need to worry that their therapist will be evaluating or judging them in any way.
The non-directive style of person-centered counselling is thought to be of more benefit to individuals who have a strong urge to explore themselves and their feelings, and for those who want to address specific psychological habits or patterns of thinking.
The approach has been found particularly useful in helping individuals to overcome specific problems such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, eating disorders and alcohol addictions. These issues can have significant impact on self-esteem, self-reliance and self-awareness, but person-centred therapy can help individuals to reconnect with their inner self in order to transcend any limitations.
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