Person-centred therapy, also known as person-centred or client-centred counselling, is a humanistic approach that deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously, rather than how a counsellor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas.
What is person-centred counselling?
Created in the 1950s by psychologist Carl Rogers, the person-centred approach ultimately sees human beings as having an innate tendency to develop towards their full potential. However, this ability can become blocked or distorted by certain life experiences, particularly those experiences which affect our sense of value.
The therapist in this approach works to understand an individual’s experience from their perspective. The therapist must positively value the client as a person in all aspects of their humanity while aiming to be open and genuine. This is vital in helping the client feel accepted, and better able to understand their own feelings. The approach can help the client to reconnect with their inner values and sense of self-worth, thus enabling them to find their own way to move forward and progress.
The core purpose of person-centred therapy is to facilitate our ability to self-actualise - the belief that all of us will grow and fulfil our potential. This approach facilitates the personal growth and relationships of a client by allowing them to explore and utilise their own strengths and personal identity. The counsellor aids this process, providing vital support to the client and they make their way through this journey.
"The person-centred counsellor is not an expert; rather the client is seen as an expert on themselves and the person-centred counsellor encourages the client to explore and understand themselves and their troubles."
- Counsellor Mary-Claire Wilson
Over time, our identity - our personal judgements, meanings and experiences - can become displaced with the ideals of others. It is for this reason that person-centred counselling aims to help clients self-actualise and achieve personal growth. This is cultivated through the provision of a supportive environment, where clients can strengthen and expand on their own identity, and begin to separate themselves from their developed notions of how they should be.
In this video, Rhianan Lowes explains more about person-centred therapy.