“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.”
- Carl Rogers
Founded in the 1940s by U.S. psychologist and psychotherapist Carl Rogers, Person-Centred therapy is so named because its focus is on the person, not ‘the problem’.
The Person-Centred therapist is not seeking to diagnose the client, to fit them into a box, or to prescribe treatment. In place of a hierarchical relationship, Person-Centred therapy offers a collaborative approach based on a therapeutic relationship between you and the therapist.
The Person-Centred therapy relationship provides a non-judgmental space for the client to achieve greater independence, to find and achieve their own goals, and to trust their own inner voice. This approach prepares the client better to cope not only with current issues but also with future problems they may face after therapy has concluded.
WHAT IT ISN'T:
PERSON-CENTRED AND OTHER TYPES OF THERAPY
Unlike in some other available therapies, such as psychoanalysis, the therapist is not setting themselves up as an all-knowing expert or hypothesiser on what is happening inside you, or predictor of what will happen in your life; they believe that you are the expert on you.
Nor is the therapist presenting as an unreadable ‘blank screen’; you will see on the therapist’s face, read in their body language, and hear in their words how your story is impacting them.
The therapist will not be utilising or recommending techniques to ‘fix you’ (as in CBT for example). Instead, as you are encouraged to bring your own issues to the session, the therapy is led by you rather than being directed by the therapist, with the therapist helping you to focus on relevant issues, feelings and beliefs. You will also communicate openly with your therapist about how you both perceive the progress of the therapy.
Altogether this collaborative approach contributes to your personal growth, gradually enabling you to discover your own abilities and self-direction and contributing to greater self-awareness and independence, so that you can cope with current and future problems.
THE CORE CONDITIONS & THE THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP
Central to Person-Centred therapy is the building of a secure, mutually trusting therapeutic relationship, based on the therapist offering what Rogers termed the Core Conditions.
In practical terms these can be expressed as follows:
Your therapist is authentic, honest and transparent in how they experience you and your world.
The therapist always esteems you, remaining accepting and non-judgemental.
The therapist uses empathic understanding to be alongside you in your experience and frame of reference.
Rogers believed that, simple though they are, these conditions provide a space where you can begin to achieve your true potential, in a process Rogers called self-actualisation. In so doing you will feel able to live more fully and in a state of greater psychological well-being.