What is person-centred counselling/psychotherapy?
Person-centred psychotherapy, also known as client-centred therapy or Rogerian therapy, is a therapeutic approach developed by psychologist Carl Rogers (see picture). It is a humanistic and non-directive form of therapy that places the individual at the centre of the therapeutic process. Person-centred therapy focuses on creating a safe and supportive environment where clients can explore their experiences, emotions, and self-perceptions in a non-judgmental and empathetic manner.
Key principles of person-centred psychotherapy include:
• Unconditional Positive Regard: The therapist provides a non-judgmental, accepting, and empathetic attitude towards the client, rega
rdless of their thoughts, feelings, or behaviours. Unconditional positive regard communicates respect and fosters an atmosphere of trust and safety.
• Empathy: The therapist strives to under
stand the client's subjective experience by putting themselves in the client's shoes and viewing the world from their perspective. Empathy involves active listening, reflecting the client's feelings to the client to check understanding, and demonstrating understanding and sensitivity.
• Congruence or Genuineness: The therapist aims to be authentic and genuine in their interactions with the client. They express their feelings and reactions to what’s happening in the therapeutic encounter honestly and openly, creating a transparent therapeutic relationship.
• Client's Intrinsic Motivation: Person-centred therapy recognizes that individuals possess an innate drive towards growth, self-actualization, and fulfilling their potential. The therapist facilitates the client's self-exploration a
nd self-discovery, clients of ten feel empowered to make choices and take responsibility for their growth and well-being.
In person-centred therapy, the therapeutic process is guided by the client's agenda and needs rather than the therapist's agenda. The therapist provides a supportive and non-directive space for the client to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences freely. The therapist avoids interpretations, advice-giving, or imposing their own beliefs or solutions on the client.
The benefits of person-centred therapy include:
• Increased Self-Awareness: The therapy process encourages clients to better understand their thoughts,
emotions, and behaviours. Through self-exploration and reflection, clients often gain insight into their values, motivations, and the factors influencing their well-being.
• Enhanced Self-Acceptance: Person-centred therapy promotes self-acceptance and self-worth by offering unconditional positive regard. Clients learn to recognize and accept their experiences, thoughts, and feelings without judgment or self-criticism.
• Personal Growth and Empowerment: The therapy process aims to facilitate personal growth and self-actualisation. By providing a supportive environment and emphasising the client's intrinsic motivation, person-centred therapy helps individuals explore their potential, make choices aligned with their values, and reflect on where they have responsibility for their growth.
Person-centred therapy can be effective for a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, self-esteem concerns, and issues of identity and personal growth. The approach emphasises the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the client's active involvement in their healing process.