The main focus of Person-Centred counselling is in creating a 'therapeutic relationship' between counsellor and client. The client needs to be able to talk about whatever they need to, share their intimate thoughts and explore sometimes difficult feelings. For this the client needs to feel able to fully trust the counsellor; they need to feel safe, supported and that they will not be judged.
The counsellor works at creating the right environment in which a client feels able to look at themselves and develop a greater understanding of their own thoughts, feelings and meanings. The counsellor is not there to analyse the client or give them advice, but instead to be along side them, supporting them and helping them to explore their own issues, with the belief that the client with come to find their own 'answers'.
Carl Rogers, the founder of the Person-Centred Approach in Counselling suggested that three conditions were necessary to create this 'therapeutic relationship'.
Empathy - the client feels that the counsellor really understands their unique experience, what is is like to be them in their situation.
Congruence - the counsellor is genuine in the relationship with the client and the client is able to trust them.
Unconditional Positive Regard - the counsellor does not judge whatever the client brings but instead fully accepts them with warmth.
In really simple terms: In providing these conditions the counsellor creates a therapeutic environment which enables a client to psychologically self-heal, just as gardener does not 'make' the seeds grow, he or she simply creates the conditions where growth is possible and the seeds do the growing for themselves.
For more information about the Person-Centred way of working see the British Association for Person-Centred Approach website - http://www.bapca.org.uk/