This essay has asked me to look at Person-Centred Therapy and evaluate if this approach can treat a client alone. I will first look at what Person-Centred approach is, and then consider its advantages and disadvantages. I can then answer the question, whether I think it offers the therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients.
Carl Rogers developed this approach through years of working as a psychotherapist. He believed people continually strive to become a person and this never stops. This is on the same wave length as Abraham Maslow, who developed the hierarchy of needs in which we all strive for self actualisation. 'I wish to point to two related tendencies which have acquired more and more importance in my thinking as the years have gone by. One of these is an actualizing tendency, a characteristic of organic life. One is a formative tendency in the universe as a whole. Taken together, they are the foundation blocks of the person-centred approach.' (Carl Rogers, a way of being) As a Person-Centred counsellor, your role is to encourage the client to become aware of their feelings without giving any advice. The approach has three core conditions. The first is empathy, feeling what the client is feeling. The second is congruence, being genuine. And the third is unconditional positive regard, giving the client warmth and being non judgemental regardless of their behaviour. A therapist using all of these core conditions should help the client relax and express their inner feelings. The therapist is there to listen, paraphrase and clarify what the client says. ‘Through this process, the clients self actualisation develops and they can realise that they have less need to be defensive and subservient. They can look forward to meeting people because their self image is stronger and not bound by the image they have nurtured since childhood.’ (http://www.elementsuk.com/libraryofarticles/thepcato.pdf)
‘Rogers believed that emotional distress stemmed from not living ‘authentically’. By this he meant that individuals were not being themselves and were struggling to be something they were not.’ (Class notes) He also believed we blame others for all our problems instead of taking responsibility for our own responses and actions. If we do not own our problems we cannot control them. In the Rogerian model emotional wellbeing relies on honesty about ourselves and our problems, authenticity and taking responsibility of ourselves. The key lies in encouraging the client to reach a state of ‘normality’. For example; communication and awareness of others, self awareness, co-operation with others and development of an open personality. Quite often the inclusion of these could be all that is needed.
There are many advantages to this approach. As the client is the focus, and they are essentially untangling their own problems, any solutions they come up with are more likely to be suited to them. After all they know themselves better than the therapist knows them. And if they have come up with this solution themselves, which is suited to them, they are more likely to follow it than if the therapist suggested it. We all do this in our day to day lives when we feel confident in ourselves, where we shop, what car we buy. We may listen to recommendations but ultimately we act on our own decisions. The environment the therapist creates should allow the client to feel confident enough in themselves to think of a solution and be confident enough to carry it out.
A great advantage of Person-Centred Therapy is the lasting effect it has on the person. The fact that you yourself untangled your problems, that you thought of a solution and acted upon it without any ‘help’ brings feelings of huge satisfaction, self esteem and self confidence. This in turn will let the client find their own solutions for future problems. The approach helps educate the client for the future as well as treat them for the current problem.
The three core...