The psychologist Carl Rogers first developed person-centred therapy techniques in the 1940s and 1950s. As such, it is sometimes called “Rogerian” psychotherapy. PCT is generally considered one of the major types of psychotherapy, some of the other types being psychodynamic therapy, psychoanalytic or Freudian therapy, existential therapy, and cognitive-behavioural.
As cited in (Mearns,2003,p.90) “in a very meaningful sense, therapy is diagnosis, and this diagnosis a process which goes on in the experience of the client, rather than in the intellect of the clinician”(Roger,1951,p.223)
In the person-centred therapy approach, there are considered to be six important conditions that are believed to act together to enable positive change in the client. The first condition is the existence of a positive relationship between the therapist and the client, which is regarded by both to be important. The second condition is termed client incongruence. This means that there is a discrepancy between the client’s experiences and his or her self-image. The third condition for person-centred therapy is that the therapist must be congruent. This means that the therapist must be genuinely involved in the therapeutic relationship and able to draw on his or her own experiences in order to empathize with the client and build the relationship. The fourth condition, and perhaps the most vital, is Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR), whereby the therapist demonstrates a genuine, non-judgmental, and unconditional acceptance of the client.
The fifth condition is empathic understanding of the client by the therapist. Accurately empathizing with the client is a very important way in which is the therapist able to communicate unconditional regard to the client. Finally, the sixth condition for successful person-centred therapy is that the client is able to perceive the empathy and unconditional acceptance offered by the therapist.
A person-centred therapy session is often delivered in a one-to-one setting, but person-centred group therapy is also possible. In group therapy of this kind, the leader of the group is responsible for creating an atmosphere of trust. Another variation on the person-centred therapy approach includes certain styles of play therapy, often employed with young children.
This person-centred technique includes listening to what the client says and then rephrasing the statement back to the client in order to help explain his emotions to him. While doing this, the counsellor should inquire about information that the client reveals in order to bring out the emotions of the statement. Active listening allows the client to feel heard by the therapist. This creates a secure relationship between the counselor and the client.
In this person-centred approach the counselor does not bring any new information into the therapeutic relationship. Instead, by asking questions the counselor allows the client to come to terms with his own conclusions. The counselor does not do any interpretation of the conversation but rather lets the client interpret his own thoughts and feelings.
At the end of the session, the counselor should paraphrase with the client. This means that the counselor simply restates everything discussed during the session. Once the counselor restates a list of items discussed during the session he should then ask the client what he wants to focus on. This allows the client to have a focus for the following week.
An important technique in person-centred therapy is the encouragement of self-actualization. This means that the therapist focuses on the strengths of the client rather than his weaknesses. The therapist would use this technique by encouraging the client in the work that he completed during the session and any other positive decisions made throughout the week.
Unconditional Positive Regard
According to KnappFamilyCounseling.com, this technique means that the therapist accepts the client completely without making any judgments about him. In order for the client-centred technique to work, the client must feel comfortable in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist communicates unconditional positive regard by avoiding advice and listening without interruption.
An effective person-centred counselling approach requires the technique of empathy. This means the therapist must have the ability to understand and share the feelings of his client. The therapist can express empathy through eye contact, body posture and sensitivity. In the words of Rogers (1975), accurate empathic understanding is as follows: “If I am truly open to the way life is experienced by another person…if I can take his or her world into mine, then I risk seeing life in his or her way…and of being changed myself, and we all resist change. Since we all resist change, we tend to view the other person’s world only in our terms, not in his or hers. Then we analyze and evaluate it. We do not understand their world. But, when the therapist does understand how it truly feels to be in another person’s world, without wanting or trying to analyze or judge it, then the therapist and the client can truly blossom and grow in that climate.”
‘The person centred approach does not adopt the medical model to understanding psychopathology and does not make the assumption than there are specific disorders requiring treatment. Insofar as practitioners in psychology and psychiatry do make his assumptionaˆ¦we can see why the person centred approach has become marginalisedaˆ¦some person centred practitioners have indeed revelled in living on the edges, taking great satisfaction in the radical nature of the paradigm.’ (Joseph and Worsley ,2005,pg1)
Person centred therapy is now commonly viewed as inadequate as a form of psychological thereapy,particularly for whose with significant difficulties who have complex needs, and whom are thus seen to require a direct or theoretically sophisticated form of intervention
Kahn contended (a) that it is impossible for a therapist to be consistently nondirective because theoretical and personal biases are unavoidable, (b) that the focus on the “psychology of the client” in person-centered therapy implies “a one-person rather than a two-person psychology,” and (c) that “fallible directivity may be useful.”Jerold d.bozarth
For me,person centered therapy stands out as one of the most influential in revolutionizing the direction of counselling theory and practice. Roger’s believed strongly in the individual’s ability to heal themselves. He saw all humans as working toward their own actualization and not simply keeping a homoeostatic balance. He believed that the client had the latent or evident ability to understand the aspects of his or her life that were causing the problems and the capacity (and tendency) to reorganize and restructure his or her relationship to life in order to move toward maturity and self-actualization. This would bring a degree of internal resolution and comfort to the client. The goal of the therapist is to create an atmosphere that will facilitate this capacity to become effective rather than latent (Rogers 1950, p.443).
Rogers C.R. (1950). A current formulation of client centered therapy. Social service review. 24, 442-450.
McLeod, S. A. (2008). Person Centred Therapy. Retrieved fromhttp://www.simplypsychology.org/client-centred-therapy.html