“How do person-centred counsellors use the therapeutic relationship to facilitate change- and in what way (s) does person-centred therapy differ from other helping relationships?” word count: 2,495
Person centred counselling originated and was evolved on the ideas of American psychologist Carl Rogers. The influences on Carl Rogers and he’s conceptualisation of Person centred counselling are numerous, from his early family life living on a farm, his interest and involvement in theology and his formative professional career. One incident which appears to have had a particular impact on Carl Rogers was when working in his first job as a psychologist, at Rochester New York, for an organisation for the prevention of cruelty to children, whilst working with a parent (Kirshenbaum H, et al. 1989). At this stage in his career Carl Rogers, being trained in or influenced by the tradition of psychoanalysis, was essentially working in a diagnostic and interpretative way, helping a child or parent gain insight or an intellectual understanding of their own behaviour and what was unconsciously driving or motivating it (Thorne B 2002) . He formalised that the problem with the child stemmed from the Mother’s rejection of the child in his early years. But despite a number of sessions was unable to help the Mother gain this insight. He concluded that it wasn’t working and finally gave up. The Mother was leaving when she asked Carl Rogers if he takes adults for counselling. He began working with the mother, where she subsequently expressed her despair of unhappiness and feelings of failure, which was more emotive and authentic in expression, than the previously intellectual and matter of fact account given previously of her history and current life. Carl Rogers said that ‘real therapy’ began at this moment and concluded in a successful outcome (Kirshenbaum H, et al. 1990). This is Carl Roger’s view and what he learned from this experience: “This incident was one of a number which helped me to experience the fact- only fully realized later- that is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried. It began to occur to me that unless I had a need to demonstrate my own cleverness and learning, I would do better to rely upon the client for the direction of movement in the process”. (Kirshenbaum H, et al. 1990 p13). This statement is arguably the beginnings of what, in many ways would later define and becomes a way of working within person centred therapy – that is a therapy that allows the client to be whom the client is, without any active direction from the therapist. Carl Rogers through clinical experience, research and development later defined his model of therapy. He based it upon the principles of a person as having at it’s a core an instinctive tendency towards growth, to fulfilling their potential as a person in what he termed ‘self actualisation’ (Mearns D, et al. 1988). Carl Rogers believed that every living organism has a desire to increase, widen and broaden. Essentially, a fundamental urge to improve upon itself and that although, in the case of human beings, this urge may be buried or hidden by multiple psychological structures and conflicts, he strongly believed in the existence of this actualisation tendency in all of us and that given the correct conditions, it could be freed and realised in all of us (Rogers C 1961- becoming a person). Personally, I have recognised a need to develop and grow within myself for sometime and this has again been highlighted to me during this term. The more I become aware of my insecurities and pre judgements, the greater the desire to become bigger than them only becomes more apparent to me. Through my clinical experience working with adults with mental health problems, I have certainly recognised a desire in many, to become bigger or more than their issues, although, I am not certain if that was a desire to escape...
References: Kirshenbaum, H. and Henderson, V. L. (1989) The Carl Rogers reader Bury St. Edmunds: St Edmundsbury Press Limited.
Kulewicz, S.F. (1989) The twelve core functions of a Counselor (5th Edn). Marlborough, CT: Counselor Publications.
Mearns, D. and Thorne, B. (1988) Person-centred counselling in Action (3rd Edn). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Mearns, D. (1994) Developing Person Centred counselling (2nd Edn). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Rogers, C. R. (1957) The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology Vol. 60, No. 6, 827-832.
Rogers, C. R. (1961) On Becoming a Person London: Constable & Robinson Ltd.
Rogers, C. R. (1980) A way of Being Boston: Houghton and Mifflin Company.
Rogers, C. R. (1980) Client Centred psychotherapy In: Kaplan, H. I. et al, ceds, Comprehensive text book of Psychiatry (3rd Edn). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co.
Thorne, B. Dryden, W. (2002) Person Centred Counselling in W. Dryden Handbook of Individual Therapy (4th Edn). London: Sage. pp. 131-157.
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