Counselling theory. In this essay I shall analyse the philosophy of the humanistic person centred therapeutic modal in relation to its origins, historical development and the people who influenced its development

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In this essay I shall analyse the philosophy of the humanistic person centred therapeutic modal in relation to its origins, historical development and the people who influenced its development. I will also evaluate the key concept, strengths, weaknesses and principles of the chosen modal exploring arguments against it using relevant examples to indicate their importance in counselling practice. Moreover I will evaluate the key features of two other therapeutic approaches Transitional analysis (TA) and the Gestalt modal and their relevance to the practicing counsellor in comparison to their main chosen modal and justify why it is important to have an in-depth understanding of a modal before using its methods and techniques.

The basic philosophy of the person centred approach views the client as their own best authority on their own experience, and it views the client as being fully capable of fulfilling their own potential for growth.

The person centred or client centred approach was developed by Carl Rogers, one of America’s prominent psychologists. Born, Carl Ransom Rogers, on the 8th January 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois, a quite suburb of Chicago. One of six children of Walter and Susan Rogers, Carl, a clever individual for his age, who could already read well before he started kindergarten. Rogers came from a strict religious background. His parents with strong Christian religious beliefs and values from Midwestern farm culture, along  with his practice as an altar boy and the and the isolated of family atmosphere, lead Rogers to his attitudes of independence and experiences in farming taught him about the strength and growth of nature.

Rogers interest’s in farming would eventually lead him to the University of Wisconsin reading agriculture, where he remained  active in religious practice and with his ambition to become a minister he change course to History. At the age of twenty he went to China to take part in a Christian conference, in which he unearthed different feelings and attitudes towards Christianity and evangelicalism and awakened dormant feelings and intrigue in which he started to question his parent’s values and Beliefs. After graduating history in 1924 he moves to New York and married Helen Elliot against the wishes of his parents.

Carl Rogers began working in New York, with the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (Merry 2002). Working as a psychologist using the  psychodynamic approach. The psychodynamic approach, recognized as pioneered by Sigmund Freud, is based on a medical model i.e. the client needs to be fixed, cured, treated or changed. This type of therapy assumes that the therapist knows what is best for the client and therefore is directive by nature. Rogers “gradually became dissatisfied with this approach as it did not do justice to the fact that the client in a deep sense knows his/herself better than the therapist.” Rogers moved away from Psychodynamic approaches to therapy and took a different view in which he regards that it is essential to create a therapeutic relationship, which a person may use for his own personal growth. Some of the influential figures that influenced Carl Rogers where:

  • Otto Rank: a teacher and one of 's closest colleagues for 20 years and a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes.
  • ; a psychologist whose concept was one functional psychology and the living organism.
  • W. H. Kilpatrick: a colleague  who was a major figure in the  movement of the early 20th century.
  • Paul Tillich: a liberal protestant theologise
  • Alfred Adler: Were an  medical  and .
  • Rollo May: an  .
  • Abraham Maslow: an  professor of .  
  • Kurt Goldstein: Were a  neurologist and psychiatrist who was a pioneer in modern neuropsychology.

The person centred model of counselling has its origins within Humanistic psychology and the phenomenological approach (Carl Rogers 1902-1987) from which he draw his ideas from. Rogers who view of the ever changing world, believes that people themselves hold all the answers, and it is in the empowerment of adults they can achieve their full potential by allowing open communication so they can understand their concepts and attitudes. This non-directive approach believes in the person’s potential and ability to make the right choices for him or herself, regardless of the therapist's own values, beliefs and ideas. Rogers a committed practitioner drew upon his own experiences to demystify therapy; to focus on the client and crucially to emphasize honesty and the destructiveness of manipulation. He would focus not on problems and solutions but on communion on what has been described as a “person to person” relationship (Boy and Pine 1982). 

Clients in person-centred therapy are perceived to move in the following directions:

  • away from facades and the constant preoccupation with keeping up appearances;
  • away from 'oughts' and an internalised sense of duty springing from externally imposed obligations;
  • away from living up to the expectations of others;
  • towards valuing honesty and 'realness' in one's self and others;
  • towards valuing the capacity to direct one's own life;
  • rewards accepting and valuing one's self and one's feelings, whether they are positive or negative;
  • rewards valuing the experience of the moment and the process of growth rather than continually striving for objectives;
  • towards a greater respect for and understanding of others,
  • towards a cherishing of close relationships and a longing for more intimacy,
  • towards a valuing of all forms of experience and a willingness to risk being open to all inner and outer experiences, however uncongenial or unexpected

 (Frick 1971)

The importance of a person centred approach is that it empowers a person to self-actualise. This tendency might be phrased (Goldstein, 1995) as the “desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming”. 

Main key concepts of and principles of the modal of Person Centred Counselling are:

The Core Conditions: 


Origin: 1900–05; Greek

Empathy is also an essential core condition required for a successful therapeutic relationship. When the counsellor is empathic it means that the he/she will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the clients world, and “can stand in the clients shoes and perceive things as the client perceives them” (Hough M, 2002:54).

When the counsellor perceives what the world is like from the client's point of view, it demonstrates not only that his/her view has value, but also that the client is being accepted. A personal empathic example from a session involved a wheelchair bound person who was talking about her pain. I was aware I was at a deep level of empathy and coming from her frame of reference I say to her “I don’t think I would be good with pain”.

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Unconditional Positive Regard: 

Unconditional Origin: 1660–70

Positive Origin: 1250–1300; < Latin positīvus;

Regard Origin: 1350–1400 French

The client is regarded as a person of worth; he or she is respected. The counsellor’s attitude is nonevaluative, non-judgemental, without criticism, ridicule, depreciation or reservations. (Brookes/ Cole 1985) The client is free to explore all thoughts and feelings, positive or negative, without danger of rejection or condemnation. The therapist may not approve of some of the client's actions but the therapist does approve of the client. Tithe therapist needs an attitude of "I'll accept you as you are" Crucially enabling clients to explore and ...

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