Indisputably, in recent years there has been an influx in people seeking therapy for a multitude of reasons relating to personal growth, marital or family conflict and work dissatisfaction to name a few. One of the recognized theories of counselling today was developed by the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s and although this new approach to psychotherapy ran contrary to the theories dominant at the time, person-centred therapy is considered one of the major therapeutic approaches nowadays, whose concepts and methods have influenced and inspired the practice of many therapists. Different types of counsellors and therapists use in an eclectic way the Rogerian approach, in order to help individuals achieve personal development and growth or come to terms with specific psychological problems. In this essay, I will initially attempt to explain the person-centred approach with its therapeutic methodologies and how they can bring positive changes in an individual’s life, as well as its fundamental concepts like self-actualisation, self-concept, conditions of worth and organismic self. Further, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages, the strengths and weaknesses within the person-centred therapy and eventually, I will look at the critics that have been made on Carl Rogers’s approach.
Specifically, person-centred therapy is a permissive, indirect approach to counselling and psychotherapy, which focuses on the ‘here and now’ principle and encourages the individual to create a positive change for himself by exploring his thoughts, feelings and emotions. The main goal of this approach is to create the conditions that will encourage self-actualisation and an environment that will help the client to narrow the gap between his current way of thinking and functioning and the nature of his original, real self; simply, to release him from any emotional distress, mental confusion and limiting beliefs about the world and himself and arm him with the opportunity to become stronger and more in control. Thereafter, much of responsibility for the treatment process is placed on him, who during sessions is encouraged to use the therapeutic relationship in his way and determine the general direction of therapy by utilising free-association and free thinking, while the therapist takes a non-directive role by solely listening actively, accepting what the client says and mirroring back his feelings, without trying to provide solutions. The person-centred therapy takes place in a warm, confidential and supportive environment, created by a close therapeutic relationship between client and therapist, where the therapist provides therapeutic support in a non-judgmental way, that helps the client to relax and gives him the security to freely express his concerns and problems without having to worry about what the therapist thinks of him. Therefore, having exposed his feelings and emotions in such a safe environment, the client is then more able to think clearly the issues through and become more aware of his true self; and the only way to give an individual the opportunity to get more in touch with his real self is to accept him unconditionally and offer him warm respect as a fellow struggling human being, no matter how inconvenient it may be for those around him. After the individual has gained self-awareness and personal insight, he is then able to find his own solutions and to decide what positive steps towards change to take next.
Indeed, the key to effective therapy lays purely and simply in demonstrating within the therapeutic relationship, empathetic understanding of the client’s emotions and perspective, be congruent and genuine, and offer warmth and unconditional positive regard. These are the three qualities for a successful person-centred therapy, which constitute the therapeutic methodologies of Rogerian’s approach. Specifically, empathy constitutes a major portion of the therapeutic work itself....
References: • Frankland, A.F. and Sanders, P.S. (1995) Next Steps in counselling, PCCS
• Rogers, C.R.R. (1951) Client-Centered Therapy, Constable & Robinson Ltd
• www.newworldencyclopedia.org (31/05/2011)
• www.minddisorders.com (31/05/2011)
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