Carl Rogers’ Core Conditions
The ‘core conditions’ are basically attitudes that the counsellor displays that show acceptance of the client, valuing them as a human being of worth.
The first condition is called empathy, sometimes referred to as a frame of reference. Try this experiment: with a friend, look at the same object, or the view out of the window. Do you see the same thing?
Probably not; the reason is that we all have our own perception of the world. The counsellor tries to understand the thoughts and the feelings as the client experiences them , sometimes referred to as ‘walking in someone else’s shoes’.
The second condition is known as congruence; this means the counsellor is genuine and real. This condition is important as it allows the client to build a trusting relationship with the counsellor. Let’s face it, would you want to talk your problems over with someone acting falsely? No, I thought not.
The counsellor’s congruence also has another use. It can help defeat negative attitudes or conditions of worth that others may have placed on the client. For example, perhaps someone has said to them that they are ugly, fat or stupid. The counsellor’s warm and genuine approach allows the client to feel valued, which in turn builds self-esteem and trust in their own judgement.
The third and final condition is known as UPR, which is short for unconditional positive regard. For a client, it can be a relief to talk about their problems without someone saying, ‘Why did you do this?’ or ‘Do think that was a good idea?’.
UPR allows the client to open up and speak about their difficulties without a fear of being criticised or judged.
All counsellors – even those who don’t practise person-centred therapy use the ‘core conditions’ as a base for their practice.
Let me ask you a question: how easy would it be for you to offer the core conditions to clients? Reflect on what might stop you doing so. Why might you find it difficult?
Feel free to discuss this in the Counselling Café.
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