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Person Centred Counselling

The Person Centred Approach

This is the approach developed by Carl Rogers, and is sometimes for that reason called Rogerian counselling or therapy. It is an approach that recognises the inherent potential of each individual to resolve his or her difficulties. The intention is to support and enable the client to formulate their own solutions and apply them of their own volition. Most of us are far more creative than we realise, and in the pressure and tension of daily life lose sight of our greatest asset and resource - ourselves. What the Person Centred approach says is that if we approach another person in a certain way, we can enable them to grow and develop and work through any problems they may have. And the suggestion is really that any approach which is genuinely going to help people must involve working in that same way.

Well, what is this way? It entails three qualities.

The first quality is empathy. Many people believe that this is the single quality which is most important in all forms of therapeutic listening. It means getting inside the world of the person who comes for therapy, so that the person feels accepted and understood. Two things are important about this: (1) that the empathy be accurate, and (2) that the empathy be made known to the client. Both of these are learnable skills, and they do make a huge difference to the relationship between client and counsellor or therapist.

The second quality is genuineness. If empathy is about listening to the client, genuineness is about listening to myself, really tuning in to myself and being aware of all that is going on inside myself. It means being open to my own experience, not shutting off any of it. And again it means letting this out in such a way that the client can get the benefit of it. Genuineness is harder than empathy because it implies a lot of self-knowledge, which can really only be obtained by going through one's own therapy in quite a full and deep way. It is only a fully-functioning person (Rogers' word for the person who has completed at least the major part of their therapy) who can be totally genuine.

The third quality is unconditional positive regard. It means that the client can feel received in a human way, which is not threatening. In such an atmosphere trust can develop, and the person can feel able to open up to their own experiences and their own feelings. It may be noticed here that these three qualities are really what we would hope for from any human being.  So there is a lot in this approach about learning how to be a human being. It is one of the paradoxical and exciting things about the approach generally that it assumes that everyone is capable of being fully human.

In a therapeutic situation where these qualities are operating, Rogers found, clients go through a sequence of stages which more and more closely approach being fully functioning persons, able to take charge of their own lives and really be themselves.

Rogers later extended his work to basic encounter groups (small groups where the same principles operate), to organisational work on several different levels (for example, working with a class in school, with the school itself, and with the whole school district), and to work with cross-cultural groups to improve international understanding. He saw his work as having political implications: for him personal power and political power were closely connected

Our most precious resource is time,

time for us, time to be listened to,

time to be understood

Helping You To Help Yourself

1996 Mindscape Limited

Designed By David Lloyd-Hoare Bsc(Hons) MBACP(Accred) INLPTA

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