The person centred approach was developed by Carl Rogers (1902-1987) who has been described as the “most influential psychologist in American history”* and who was mainly responsible for the spread of professional counselling and psychotherapy. Rogers believed that it is the client who knows best. It is the client who knows what is wrong and the client who knows how to move forward. The role of the person-centred counsellor is to facilitate that change by providing a safe nurturing environment whereby the client feels valued, heard and accepted.
As children we develop a picture of ourselves and the world around us based on our experiences and early relationships. We all have a need to feel valued and loved, but if our self-worth is damaged in some way we can learn to doubt ourselves and struggle to know who we really are. We may lose our self-confidence and feel confused and worthless. Rogers believed that by entering into a therapeutic relationship with someone who is genuine and trustworthy, who values the client regardless of who or what they are and who attempts to see the world from the client’s point of view and reflect this back, that the client can be enabled to get in touch with their true feelings and begin to grow again.
I attempt to provide these conditions in my counselling sessions to help my clients to explore their experiences and feelings in order to understand and come to terms with them. It is then possible for us to learn to be self-accepting and assume responsibility for making our own choices.
*The Carl Rogers Reader Ed. Howard Kirschenbaum and Valerie Land Henderson