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Person Centred Counselling

I chose this style of counselling because the basic assumptions or beliefs that the theory is based upon fit well with my own beliefs.

 

The Person Centred Approach is a humanistic approach. It is based in the ideas that people have an inbuilt desire to grow physically and mentally and that we need certain things to enable us to grow in healthy ways.

 

Carl Rogers developed his theory over a lifetime of working therapeutically with people, it grew from his own observations of what seemed to work and what didn’t. He had a great respect for the science of psychology and spent a lot of time collecting data, recording and filming sessions, interviewing therapists and clients and comparing the experience of therapy with the outcomes of therapy. He wanted to validate his ideas so that the person centred theory could be a robust, scientifically accepted intervention. 

 

Rogers honed his observations down to six conditions for change.

 

 

The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change.

Rogers, Carl R.

1.  Two persons are in psychological contact.

 

2.  The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious.

 

3.  The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship.

 

4.  The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.

 

5.  The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference and           endeavours to communicate this experience to the client.

6.  The communication to the client of the therapist's empathic understanding and unconditional

      positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.

No other conditions are necessary. If these six conditions exist, and continue over a period of time, this is sufficient. The process of constructive personality change will follow. (Rogers, Carl R. 1)

 

 

For me these six conditions are exciting and liberating, for you they might just look a bit simple. Why would you want to pay for this listening and understanding and non-judgemental attitude? 

I will try to explain what these six conditions mean to me.

 

1. Two persons are in psychological contact.

 

Two people should feel comfortable to be with each other in more than a superficial way. They need to feel able to put aside their public faces, where we show the best of ourselves to the world, and reveal a little of their inner thoughts and feelings to one another. In order for a client to feel secure in revealing themselves I need to build a level of trust with them. This is what some people call the working alliance and it is one element of the relationship that can be built during counselling. 

 

2.  The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious.

 

This seems pretty clear and if a person is seeking therapeutic help then I would imagine that they are feeling vulnerable or anxious in some way. Incongruence could use some explanation as it is a central idea in person centred counselling. It basically means incompatible and Rogers suggests that when people’s actual life experience is not compatible with their core self, the bit that is most them, then this can be very uncomfortable and damaging for them.

 

3.  The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship.

 

Congruent or integrated? for me this means that I need to be genuine and honest. It also means that I need to be able to listen and understand your stuff without letting my stuff influence how I view it. I need to know myself well so that I can come close to you without my own experience and opinions influencing our sessions. I have personal counselling to broaden my self knowledge which helps me to recognise what is mine and therefore what is yours.

 

4.  The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.

 

As a therapist I should always regard you positively and welcome all of you and your experience, no matter if you are happy or sad, angry or caring. All of you is welcome and is equally valued. This unconditional positive regard can not, however, be false, I have worked to develop my understanding of people my increased awareness allows me to be accepting, to know that people and lives are complicated. I use this understanding to develop my unconditional positive regard for you from a genuine position of caring and understanding rather than it being an attitude that I ‘paste’ onto our relationship.

 

5.  The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this experience to the client.

 

An empathic understanding is for me to feel your feelings but to know that the feelings are yours not mine and then to communicate to you that I can sense your sadness or joy. As I reflect these feelings to you I may not always get it right but this gives you a chance to say ‘no that’s not right’ and we can explore what is actually going on for you. The client’s internal frame of reference is your personal view point made up of your experiences, thoughts, beliefs all the things that make you a unique individual. I try to understand you as completely as possible and to let you know that I see you and am trying to know you fully.

 

6.  The communication to the client of the therapist's empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.

 

This is all about you and is possibly the most important element because if you don’t feel that I get you or am at least trying to get you then you may feel alone and misunderstood in the counselling room, the place where you were hoping for understanding and support.