Person-Centred Counselling

Person-centred therapy taps into our natural ability to develop and grow our minds. It is maybe strongest when a person wanting to grow (the client) engages with another (the counsellor). The desired growth might be to overcome difficulties arising from loss, trauma, abuse or other adversity, or simply new development and growth. To me, the essential core of the endeavour requires the presence of three conditions:

  1. The client  wants to overcome adversity or desires new growth. They therefore have at least some awareness of what it is that motivates them to engage in counselling.
  2. The counsellor is open and respectful of all that the client shares about how they experience themselves. This will inevitably include exploration of what is involved in the first condition. Ideally, this is a confidential meeting with no taboo subjects.
  3. The counsellor is able to adopt the perspective of the client. The counsellor empathises and therefore steps into the client’s frame of reference, laying their own frame of reference aside.

The conditions above are effectively condensed from the theory presented by Carl Rogers. Click here to read his general statement of the theory, or click here for the full version.

The various other approaches to counselling see the counsellor drawing more from all sorts of theories and engaging with a range of techniques. My own experience says that the essential core of counselling is to stay close to what the client shares. Theories and techniques can only be useful if the client engages with them. They need to be found acceptable when the client is maybe at their most vulnerable. Anything too threatening can easily close down or misguide the exploration. This was why Rogers developed from being theory-centred to person-centred, or more accurately, client centred. Click here for an overview of my thoughts on the development of this area of theory, and of research spanning and comparing different approaches.

Rogers also considered areas of application outside of counselling for what became known as the Person-Centred Approach (PCA). Click here to read more about how I work from a person-centred perspective in related activities, including group work, training and supervision, or contact me directly by clicking here.