Explore the Person Centred Approach in Relation to Counselling Practice

Topics: Self-concept, Self, Personality psychology Pages: 7 (2574 words) Published: February 5, 2012
Explore the Person Centred approach in relation to counselling practice

The roots of the Person Centred approach, now considered a founding work in the Humanistic school of psychotherapies, began formally with Carl Rogers in the 1950’s. Dealing in the 'here and now' and not on the childhood origins of the client's problems, basic assumptions of the Person Centred approach state that clients are essentially trustworthy; that they have a vast potential for understanding themselves and resolving their own problem and that they are capable of self-directed growth when in a therapeutic relationship. In counselling there is a focus on the client’s ability to move in positive directions and towards a single ‘force of life’ called the ‘actualizing tendency’. This can be defined as the built-in motivation present in every individual to develop its potentials to the fullest extent possible. Tied to this is the belief in the confidence that individuals also have the inner resources to move themselves in such positive directions. It is thought there is a place of wisdom in everyone which tells them where they should be going. In Person Centred counselling in order to satisfy the ‘actualising tendency’, the client needs to learn first what is of value to that growth. This ability to weigh up and to value experiences positively/negatively is the 'organismic valuing process,' and if clients listen to their 'organismic valuing process' they will know what will help move them towards their potential. Difficulties can occur however in both the ability to weigh up and to value experiences and also in efforts to fulfil creative potential. This is because humans value positive self-regard: that is, self-esteem, self-worth, a positive self-image. When society in general and significant others in the client's world such as parents, teachers, peers and the media provide positive regard that is conditional, rather than unconditional, the person interjects the desired values, making them their own, and in doing so acquires ‘conditions of worth’. They bend themself into a shape determined, not by their organismic valuing or actualizing tendency, but by others which may or may not have their best interests at heart. Through this process an ideal self evolves. ‘Ideal’ is something that is not real, something that is always out of reach, where standards are unobtainable. For example when counselling I discovered the ‘ideal’ self of a client who had many unhealthy beliefs such as ‘I shouldn’t get angry,’ ‘I must always succeed at what I set out to do,’ ‘I have to get it right all the time,’ ‘I have to be in control,’ ‘I must meet the standards I set for myself’ and so forth. It turned out that these were her parents conditions of worth, not her own. The gap between the real self and the ideal self, the “I am” and the “I should”, creates incongruence. Incongruence causes confusion, tension, anxiety and maladaptive behaviour. For my client I found that as one belief after another was compounded on top of each other life became a constant battle to meet all the imposed standards. There was no let up or room for self compassion or failure. This was causing the client much pain and anxiety. Through observing the client’s defences the person centred counsellor can therefore learn where in life the client puts a greater distance between the ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ self by blocking out a threatening situation. They can furthermore observe how by blocking this situation out the client becomes more incongruent and find themselves in more and more threatening situations, to which they develop greater and greater levels of anxiety and use more and more defences. For the client trapped in a vicious cycle, which they are unable to get out of on their own, person centred counselling can be invaluable. Since the Person Centred counsellor believes that psychological difficulties are...
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