The Person-centred approach was developed by Dr. Carl Rogers (1902–1987).
Counselling involves creating a healing relationship that relies upon personal qualities which counsellors develop within themselves. For many practitioners this is a continuous learning.
'If I am to facilitate the personal growth of others in relation to me, then I must grow, and while that is often painful it is also enriching'. Carl Rogers
Central the approach is the belief that people have a natural tendency to develop psychologically when they are in an accepting, empathic and genuine relationship. Clients know the direction that their therapy needs to take and they are trusted to lead their sessions.
'It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried'. Carl Rogers
Rogers published an article in 1957, identifying six conditions that he considered 'necessary and sufficient' for therapeutic change.
The first condition is that there is 'psychological contact' between counsellor and client.
The second condition is to do with the state that the client is in and their readiness for therapy.
The third, fourth and fifth conditions are often referred to as the core conditions, they are about the qualities which the counsellor brings to the relationship.
Unconditional Positive Regard Counsellors are genuinely accepting, respectful and warm towards clients who are free to be themselves and to explore their situation without being judged or criticized. When people are valued they are most likely to value themselves, to become more confident and to develop greater self esteem.
Empathy Counsellors understand clients at a deep level. This can reduce feelings of isolation and of being alone with one’s troubles. Counsellors reflect back what the client tells them, helping clients to hear themselves and to check their own views and meanings.
Congruence As far as possible Counsellors are aware of what they are experiencing in their relationships with clients. Their inner feelings are available to them allowing the counsellor to be openly themselves and to share some of their experiencing when this seems to be in clients’ best interests. These qualities of presence and genuineness create a trustworthy and safe environment for the client to explore themselves and their issues.
Rogers Sixth Condition is that counsellors communicate their empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard to clients so that clients can benefit from being understood and accepted.
'In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?' Carl Rogers