Person Centred Therapy Evaluation

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In order to evaluate the claim that Person-Centred Therapy offers the therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients, one must look at the theoretical concepts of person-centred therapy (PCT) and its underlying philosophical influences.

The PCT approach was developed during the 1940’s and 1950’s by an American psychologist Carl Rogers, now known as Rogerian counselling; he proposed new humanistic ideas for counselling which moved away from the doctor/patient relationship. PCT emphasises person to person relationship between the therapist and client and focuses on the client’s point of view; through active listening the therapist tries to understand the client’s presenting issue and emotions. In PCT the client determines the direction, course, speed and length of the treatment and the therapist helps increase the client’s insight and self understanding.

Rogers and Abraham Maslow, another psychologist, were the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. “Humanistic theories of personality maintain that humans are motivated by the uniquely human need to expand their frontiers and to realise as much of their potential as possible” (Sanders 2002 p22). A humanistic approach is based on all human beings having an inbuilt ability to grow and achieve their full potential known as “actualisation”. If this quality can be harnessed then human beings can resolve their own issues naturally, given the right conditions. Rogers and Maslow believed in a person’s potential to reach self actualisation. Maslow however referred to the ‘psychology of being’ and that self actualisation was an end in itself at the top of the hierarchy of needs whereas Rogers considered the ‘psychology of becoming’- the process of being able to take charge of your life and become the person you want to be - a continuous process.

Maslow felt that human beings are always striving for self improvement which goes beyond that of the basic needs for survival. He believed that a person’s behaviour stems from the way in which people strive to meet different needs. From 1943 to 1954 he developed the 5-level Hierarchy of Needs:     * The first, lowest level, concerns a person’s physiological needs: survival, food, water and shelter.   * The second addresses safety: protection from danger and need for security, order and predictability.   * The third covers love & social behaviour: for love, friendship and acceptance by peers.   * The fourth addresses self respect and esteem: the need for status, independence, recognition, self confidence and respect from others.   * The fifth and highest level concerns self-actualisation: the need to fulfil one’s personal potential.

His theory states that each need must be met in turn starting with the lowest concerning the need for survival and only when the lower needs are met is a person able to move on to the higher needs. However if something should happen and any lower needs are no longer satisfied then a person will concentrate on regaining them before attaining the higher ones.

The lower four levels are known as ‘deficiency’ needs which a person will strive to fulfil thereby satisfying the deficiency. However behaviour relating to self actualisation is known as a ‘growth’ need, governed by the person’s inborn need to grow and realise his full potential. Maslow felt most people only ever achieved the first four needs, and he wanted to help clients to obtain ‘Self-Actualisation’ in order to really become themselves. “The higher up the hierarchy we go, the more the need becomes linked to life experience and the less ‘biological’ it becomes.” (Gross 1996 p.97) It is a fact that people achieve self actualisation in many different ways, related to experience in later life rather than biology.   If a person has a deficiency in one of the lower levels of needs then self- actualisation cannot be achieved, resulting in anger, frustration, unhappiness and depression.

Rogers trusted in people and viewed...
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