What is Person-Centred Therapy
The person-centred (also known as client-centred) approach to counselling is one of the most popular theories of counselling and psychotherapy. Person-centred therapy departs from both the behavioural and psychodynamic model of the therapist being the expert and moves toward a nondirective (not goal orientated), humanistic, warm, and empathic approach that aims to empower and motivate the client in a self-healing therapeutic process.
The therapeutic framework underpinning the person- centred approach is the belief that no two people perceive the world in the same way and therefore we think and behave in the way we do because of the way we interpret our situation. As integrative therapists, we passionately believe in your trustworthiness and in your innate capacity to move in a positive direction towards personal growth, constructive change and self-actualisation. Tied to our beliefs, we are confident that you have the inner resources and character strengths to move yourself in such positive directions provided the proper core conditions of therapy are in place.
Is Person-Centred Therapy Suitable for Me?
This client led form of therapy is suitable to people of all ages and background who wish to explore themselves more fully and get in touch with their feelings. It is particularly suitable if you do not wish to receive your therapist’s interpretation or analysis of your situation, and you like the assurance that you will not be judged or evaluated.
Here are some client specific issues where person centred therapy has proven to be beneficial:
- Low self-esteem
- General anxiety
- Eating disorders
What Does Person-Centred Therapy Entail?
The aim of person-centred therapy is increase your feelings of self-worth, reduce the level of incongruence between your true self and your actual self, and support you to live a full and meaningful life. With greater self-awareness and trust in yourself, you will be able to change how you feel and improve your psychological wellbeing.
To achieve this personal growth, three core conditions that are necessary for therapeutic change to occur:
- Unconditional positive regard. This means that your therapist accepts your life experiences, beliefs, preferences, behaviours and thoughts unconditionally without judgement or evaluation. Equally you must be convinced that your therapist is not passing any judgement.
- Empathic understanding. Your therapist can learn from you what it feels like to be you, and to perceive your world as you perceive it. You will experience your therapist’s empathy without your therapist becoming emotionally involved in your therapeutic work.
- Therapist congruence. Your therapist will be genuine and self-aware of their own experience within the therapeutic relationship with you. Your therapist is without façade, that is, their internal and external experience are one in the same, and this may be shared with you as part of the therapeutic process. If your therapist identifies a discrepancy between your personal experiences and your self-image, this will be named by your therapist in the session, as this incongruence can leave you vulnerable to anxiety and fear. It is our experience that the client is often not aware that there is incongruence in this regard.
By providing you with these conditions for growth you can realise your actualising tendencies for personal growth and development. You are invited to explore your difficulties and resources in this productive environment, which will then lead to a clearer picture of your true self and your real potential. As your perception of yourself becomes more accurate, you become better able to act in ways that are most in line with your true self (congruence). This in turn will lead you to increase self-confidence, self-understanding, and to make better informed choices.
How Can I Benefit from Person-Centred Therapy?
Because person-centred therapy helps develop personal growth and builds a person’s sense of self, it can have several positive effects on an individual.
- It can increase your level of trust in yourself and your ability
- It can improve your self-awareness.
- Improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression
- Decrease maladaptive behaviours
- It can enhance your interpersonal relationships.
- It can help you process and reduce feelings like shame, guilt, insecurity, or defensiveness.
- It can assist you to confidently express yourself and how you feel.
Are There Limitations to Person-Centred Therapy?
Although highly regarded, person-cantered therapy has its limitations and is not suitable for everyone. Because the therapy is client-centred and non-directive, and the client is viewed by the therapist as the experts on their own lives, you may find the therapist’s reflective interventions limiting. If you are a person seeking short term symptom reduction, or prefers organisation and structure – such as; scientifically proven exercises and experiments proven to improve one’s psychological wellbeing – you may be better suited to more active therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), positive psychotherapy, solution focused therapy to name a few.