The Person-Centred Approach to counselling was founded by Carl Rogers in the 1940s to 1960s. Rogers was a Professor of Psychology as well as working as a therapist, conducting research and writing books. The Person-Centred Approach was influenced by humanism. Humanists believed that everyone is basically good but that adverse experiences and circumstances can affect people and cause deviations from this.
The Person-Centred Approach links to this in that Rogers believed that each person has an innate tendency towards growth and their own innate resources to help them self-heal and deal with problems themselves. He believed that there are times when this tendency and ability is diminished through adverse conditions but that it never completely goes away. The idea is that Person-Centred Counselling can help restart this tendency towards growth and help a person to self-heal through providing the right conditions.
Main ideas and aims
Person-Centred Counselling is client-led and non-directive. This means that the client is in control of the process and aims to help clients to develop their skills and ability to help themselves. This empowers the client and gives them confidence in their ability to self-heal and solve their own problems which can help in the future after therapy ends.
Because the client is in control of their therapy it is non-threatening and can help a client feel safe within the counselling relationship which can be beneficial to the process. It can also help a client to feel in control of this part of their life when perhaps this is something they do not feel in other areas.
Client-led therapy definitely does not mean that the counsellor has a passive role. Person-Centred Therapy is a collaborative process in which client and counsellor are equals and to which both contribute. The counsellor does not direct or advise but uses their skills to assist the client in clarifying or making sense of their issues and finding ways to overcome them and move forward.
Person-Centred Counselling places great importance on the relationship between client and counsellor. A Person-Centred counsellor will ensure they empathise with the client, do not judge them, respect and regard them positively with no conditions attached and are genuine and honest with them. These are the key aspects of a Person-Centred counselling relationship and what Rogers considered the necessary conditions for growth and self-healing to take place.