Person-Centred Counselling & Psychotherapy was developed in the 1940s by Carl Rogers as an alternative to more psychodynamic modalities. The focus is on the ‘person’ (the client) and the relationship between the client and therapist. My counselling qualifications to date have focussed on this modality, whilst my work within the education sector and mental health has been of a ‘person-centred’ mentality.
Below I have explained some of the key concepts of person-centred therapy to help you with your understanding. I am open to discussing these topics, so get in touch. You will also find a variety of articles on my website discussing these concepts in more depth.
Six Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
The foundation of the person-centred model are the six conditions that are needed for a therapeutic relationship to be successful.
1. Psychological contact between counsellor and client
2. The client is incongruent (anxious or vulnerable)
3. The counsellor is congruent
4. The client receives empathy from the counsellor
5. The counsellor shows unconditional positive regard towards the client
6. The client perceives acceptance and unconditional positive regard
Probably the part of the person-centred model that I most identify with, the actualising tendency can be described as a motivational tendency which encourages an organism (the person) to strive. With the right conditions, an organism will grow and bloom. Regardless, the organism will grow based the conditions available, as it is a naturally occurring tendency.
Consider the childhood science experiment where you try to grow three plants – one with water and sunlight, another with only water and another with only sunlight. These plants will all grow, but each will be affected by the conditions in which they have been placed. The Actualising Tendency is the motivation to grow.
Carl Rogers described change as a “process” where a person will “flow” between stages, up and down. This is a lot less rigid than other theorists’ perspectives on human development.
I see the process in the terms of a hedgehog – they are closed with their spines ready to attack at stages 1 and 2, but as time progresses and a relationship grows, the hedgehog will relax and uncurl.
It’s important to remember that the process is fluid. One day you might be at stage 4, another day you might be stage 2, and another day you could be at stage 6. This is something a person-centred therapist will work with.