What is Person-Centred Counselling?

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'. 

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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/


The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy definition of counselling:

Counselling takes place when a counsellor sees a client in a private and confidential setting to explore a difficulty the client is having, distress they may be experiencing or perhaps their dissatisfaction with life, or loss of a sense of direction and purpose. It is always at the request of the client as no one can properly be 'sent' for counselling.

 

By listening attentively and patiently the counsellor can begin to perceive the difficulties from the client's point of view and can help them to see things more clearly, possibly from a different perspective. Counselling is a way of enabling choice or change or of reducing confusion.  It does not involve giving advice or directing a client to take a particular course of action. Counsellors do not judge or exploit their clients in any way.

 

In the counselling sessions the client can explore various aspects of their life and feelings, talking about them freely and openly in a way that is rarely possible with friends or family. Bottled up feelings such as anger, anxiety, grief and embarrassment can become very intense and counselling offers an opportunity to explore them, with the possibility of making them easier to understand. The counsellor will encourage the expression of feelings and as a result of their training will be able to accept and reflect the client's problems without becoming burdened by them.

 

Acceptance and respect for the client are essentials for a counsellor and, as the relationship develops, so too does trust between the counsellor and client, enabling the client to look at many aspects of their life, their relationships and themselves which they may not have considered or been able to face before. The counsellor may help the client to examine in detail the behaviour or situations which are proving troublesome and to find an area where it would be possible to initiate some change as a start. The counsellor may help the client to look at the options open to them and help them to decide the best for them.

 

Definition from BACP website - http://www.bacp.co.uk/education/whatiscounselling.html


 
 
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