Transculture and Person- Centred Counselling

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Compare and contrast two counselling theories covered on this module. Discuss the strengths and limitations of the two models.

In this essay I am going to explore two multicultural theories which are person centered therapy and Gestalt therapy. I will start by discussing the two perspectives in relations to then illustrate the similarities and differences between them. During this time I will also be identifying the strengths and limitations of both of the models.

The Gestalt approach to therapy emerged during the 1950’s and was developed by Frederick Perls (1893-1970). Gestalt therapy is seen as the component of Existential and Humanistic schools of psychology that describe individuals more optimistically, believing individuals essentially strive to their full potential.

The aim of the therapy is to increase awareness so that one comes to resolution of unfinished business and the integration of the thinking, feeling and sensing processes. In Gestalt therapy the emphasis is placed on the present experience, the perception of the individual as a whole and the direct awareness of emotions and action. Gestalt therapists believe that the emotional problems and frustrations that are experienced by individuals are attributed to the lack of recognition and understanding of their own feelings. In addition to this Gestaltist believe that many individuals lose parts of themselves when they are confronted with the overpowering task of coping in society.

The role of therapist in Gestalt therapy is to encourage the client to acknowledge their emotions. This is by the therapist supporting the client to express their current feeling and experiences. The main focus for the client in Gestalt therapy is to stay in the ‘here and now.’ This is very important because it allows client to stay focused in the present when it comes to their feelings and experiences. Looking at past situations, experiences and future goals is not permitted in therapy because it can cause anxieties that bring forth excessive problems. This is why the ‘here and now’ is emphasised.

Also within gestalt therapy the therapist helps the clients to find their uniqueness and independence in order to move forward. Perls emphasised the importance of this by arguing that the process of maturation was moving from environmental support to self-support.

In contrast, Carl Rogers (1902-1987) developed Person-centred therapy and advocated a warm, supportive environment in which a person feels completely accepted, can reveal true feelings, and can thus experience self-growth. One of the main focuses of the therapy is the ‘here’ and ‘now’ and this encourages the clients to become more aware of their current problems.

Person-centred therapy came about through Roger’s theory on human personality. He argued that human experiences were valuable whether they were positive or negative so long as they maintained their self actualising tendency. Through one’s experiences and interactions with others Roger believed that a self-concept/regard was developed.

Carl Rogers believed that a truly therapeutic relationship between client and counsellor depends on the existence, of three core conditions. The core conditions are important because they represent the key concepts and principles of person-centred therapy. These core conditions are referred to as congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy.

Congruence is when the therapist has the ability to be real and honest with the client. This also means that the therapist has to be aware of their own feelings by owning up to them and not hiding behind a professional role. For example, a therapist may say ‘I understand where you are coming from’’ to the client. However the therapist has expressed a confused facial expression while saying this. The clients can be become aware of this and may feel uncomfortable in expressing their feelings, which might impact their trust and openness towards the...
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