This is something I have been asked by a few clients in the past. I didn't find it easy to explain at the time so I decided to try to explain my view of Person Centred counselling and how I have found that it can help.
What is it?
Person Centred Counselling was developed by Carl Rogers, he believed in the Actualising
tendency in all individuals when provided with the right environment. This means that given the right conditions each individual can reach their full potential.
Within therapy, a counsellor will try to provide these conditions for the client. The conditions include empathy (care and understanding of clients' problems/situation), unconditional positive regard (acceptance and non-judgement) and congruence (therapist being open and honest about their own thoughts and feelings). By providing these conditions it gives the client a safe place to discuss their inner thoughts and feelings without fear of being put down or ridiculed. In turn this allows the client to gain self-awareness and confidence in their own abilities, without relying on external approval from others.
How can it Help?
To explain how Person Centred therapy can help I would suggest that it gives an individual the chance to consider in more detail the following questions:
1. Who are you now, how do you see yourself?
2. Who would you like to be?
3. What is preventing you from making the changes?
There may be a wide variety of answers to these questions but one example could be that you view yourself as unimportant, stupid, clumsy and incapable of doing anything worthwhile. These thoughts and beliefs can lead to anxiety, depression and low self esteem.
Rogers believed that many of these thoughts and beliefs develop in childhood, influenced by parents and significant carers. For example, if a child is constantly told to be quiet and that no one wants to hear their opinion, or that they are stupid and can't do anything right, this may become part of their belief system and become how they view themselves. In order to gain positive acceptance from their parents they may sit quietly avoid giving their opinion and avoid trying new things in case they do it wrong.
This can continue to affect them into their adult life and prevent them from valuing themselves and attempting new challenges for fear of failing, upsetting others and losing their acceptance. They spend their life doing things to please others and don't follow their own goals or ambitions.
Person Centred therapy provides time and space where an individual can feel safe and supported to explore how they view themselves, challenge long held beliefs and consider what they would like to do, where they want to be and learn how to put their own thoughts and feelings first. This can help build self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities.
As an Integrative counsellor I also use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy alongside Person Centred. I believe this adds value to the therapeutic process by utilising other techniques, when exploring problem areas in more detail, and by providing coping techniques that the client can use independently, to help them manage other challenges.