Considered the ‘third wave’ of psychotherapeutic thought, humanistic therapy came after the psychoanalytic and psychodynamic movements. It grew in reaction to these therapies, with their ‘doctor-patient’ relationship that put the therapist in power, and their focus on finding what is ‘wrong’ with patients by looking at their pasts.
Person-Centred therapy laid the groundwork for the humanistic movement with its belief in a supportive therapeutic relationship of equals. It puts the focus on what is right instead of wrong with clients, and considers present-day issues instead of just the past.
He also believed in human potential, that we are all here to grow, and have the capacity to do so. Within each of us is a ‘self-actualising tendency’, and it is the job of the therapist to encourage this tendency.
Rogers expanded these themes into six key conditions for effective therapy, three of which he found so important for effective therapy he called them ‘core conditions’.
These are called congruence,empathy, and unconditional positive regard.
The three core conditions of person centred therapy
Congruencemeans that the therapist is ‘congruent’, or in line with, his or her real self. They do not pretend to be a wise, all-knowing superior, or hide behind their profession.
Empathymeans that the therapist truly desires to understand their client’s perspective and struggles. Empathy is not sympathy. The therapist does not feel sorry for the client, but respects their experience and hopes for the best for them.
Unconditional positive regard is a term that means we work to respect others as they are and see their full potential. Instead of seeking out what is wrong with someone, we acknowledge that each person has resources and inner strength. To see these things we must be open instead of judging, and listen over giving advice.
How is person centred therapy different than other forms of therapy?
If you are wondering if person-centred therapy is right for you, consider the following.
Again, newer cognitive therapies like CBT can be very structured and even have homework. Person centred therapy is an ‘open-ended’ therapy, which means that there is no plan. You show up and talk about what works for you.
Some therapies are only one or the other, but person-centred counselling can be effective in any format.
4. It’s friendly.
Your therapist is not aloof, and trying to act ‘professional’. They work to just be themselves, with all of their personality and experience. They are still a therapist and they don’t talk about themselves. The focus is on you, and that focus is respectful and positive.
5. It doesn’t have to involve the past.
Again, you decide what to talk about. If you want to do several sessions just talking about a current issue, you can. If you want to talk about a childhood experience, you can.
As a humanistic therapy, person centred therapy is all about your inner resources. What are your strengths, in what ways are you coping already? How can you take the things you already know and move forward?
What issues does person centred therapy help with?
Would you like to try person-centred therapy? Harley Therapy connects you with experienced and registered person-centred therapists in Central London. Or use our online booking platform to find affordable therapy UK-wide and internationally via Skype.
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