Finding the right type of therapy for psychological issues isn’t easy, and learning about the different options available to you is essential if you or your loved one is struggling. Person-centred therapy is a humanistic type of counselling which focuses on the individual’s subjective experience rather than a professional’s insight or interpretation of that experience. This differs from most types of counselling in that the main goal is to allow the individual to take control of their own life according to their own interpretation of the problem and their own devised solution. The role of the therapist is primarily to facilitate this self-actualisation rather than to force a specific course of action onto them.
The core principle of person-centred therapy is that nobody knows better than you do how you perceive things, and therefore, you are the best person to deal with your own issues. This means that the therapist takes something of a back-seat in the procedure, unlike the active interpreting role common in psychoanalysis or other types of therapy. Instead, the therapist simply has to do everything he or she can to allow the individual to identify their own issues and self-heal. In this sense, people in person-centred therapy are not referred to as “patients,” they are “clients,” equal partners not dependent on the counsellor for solutions.
Because of this unusual approach to therapy, person-centred counsellors don’t use any specific techniques; they focus on general rules for how to deal with clients. In short, they have to be genuine with the client, treat them with unconditional positive regard and show empathy towards their situation. These key attributes of the therapist help the individual express themselves honesty and move towards self-actualisation. Genuineness is important from the therapist because if they’re open with the client, the client is more likely to be open with them.
The counsellor also has to show unconditional positive regard to the client. Most people in everyday life provide conditional positive regard, which means that they look upon others positively only when they behave according to their pre-designated notions of how people should act. By showing unconditional positive regard, the therapist allows the individual to express themselves openly without fear of rejection. This makes it more likely that they will have a meaningful realisation about themselves and bring about a positive change in their lives.
Empathy is very similar to unconditional positive regard, but it is a separate consideration for the counsellor. The individual has to know that they are being understood as well as regarded in a positive light. A person-centred therapist has to understand how a person is feeling in their current situation (without being sympathetic – which is generally done to somebody in a “worse” position than ourselves) and communicate that understanding to them. This way, the individual knows that they are being both understood and accepted, and therefore are more likely to continue to express themselves openly.
Understanding person-centred therapy isn’t easy. Think of it as more like setting up the perfect canvas for an artist to express himself on, rather than forcefully guiding his brush-strokes. If you have any questions about this approach to counselling, or aren’t sure about your own or your loved one’s requirements, we’re here to help you. We’ll answer any questions you have about treatment and help you determine which types of care would be most beneficial to you. Our advice is absolutely free, so pick up the phone and get in touch with us today!