The Person-Centred Approach to Counselling
The person-centred approach to counselling belongs to the humanistic school of therapy, and was devised by Carl Rogers, an American psychologist who, in the 1950s, proposed a form of therapy that focused on the clients' experience of themselves, as opposed to the counsellor being an expert and telling them what to do, or what was wrong with them.
Click Here for a podcast on Carl Ransom Rogers, founder of the person-centered approach to counselling.
The therapy relies on the quality of the relationship between the counsellor and the client. This is sometimes called a ‘way of being’, with the counsellor demonstrating what is known as the core conditions, which form the basis of the relationship.
The Key Features of the Person-Centered Approach
- Empathy (the counsellor trying to understand the client’s point of view)
- Congruence (the counsellor being a genuine person)
- Unconditional positive regard (the counsellor being non-judgemental)
Person-centred therapy harnesses the client's natural self-healing process; given the right relationship with the therapist, clients can decide what they want to do with their lives. To this end, person-centred therapy is a personal growth model also known as non-directive therapy; the client is not taught the model of therapy or asked to undertake homework.
The Key Concepts and Principles of Person-Centred Counselling
- The Six Conditions for Therapeutic Change. Although the 'Core Conditions' are well-known, there are three 'Hidden Conditions'.
- The Seven Stages of Process. How clients start to emotionally grow through the process of therapy.
- The 19 Propositions. Rogers' theory of personality based on the philosophy of Phenomenology.
- Locus of Evaluation. How as humans we sometimes trust others' judgments over our own experience.
- The Organismic Self. Who we are and wish to become.
- Conditions of Worth. How conditional love and approval impacts our view of ourselves and others.
- Introjected Values. How living to other people's view of self can stop us from becoming the person we wish to be.
- Configurations of Self. A new idea in the Person-Centred Approach developed by the well-known therapist and writer Dave Mearns.
- Recent Developments in Person-Centred Therapy. Such as Fragile Process by Margaret Warner
Carl Rogers believed that all individuals have the power to live to their own organismic valuing process. This basically means trusting your own judgement, living your life in line with your own values, rather than with the values of others.
Click to learn about Carl Rogers' core conditions.
Click to see other contributors to the person-centred theory.
Carl Rogers – Humanistic Theory
Carl Ransom Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential American psychologist, writer and contributor to educational theory.
With his contribution to psychotherapy research, Rogers is widely acknowledged as one of the main contributors (along with Abraham Maslow and Otto Rank) to what is known as the 'Humanistic' School of Psychology or the 'Third Force in Psychology', a phrase coined by Abraham Maslow.
Honoured for his work in 1956 by the American Psychological Association for his groundbreaking research, with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions, Rogers also gained an award in 1972 from the APA for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology.
In later life, Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with differing groups in places such as South Africa and Northern Ireland.
One of the other terms Rogers 'coined' was the 'organismic self', a reference to how an individual uses their thoughts and feelings to develop an emotional picture of who they are. He named this process 'the internal locus of evaluation'.