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What is Person Centred Counselling?

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What is it?

Carl Rogers (1902-1987) pioneered a new way of working with clients in a therapeutic process. This is essentially a philosophy rather than a technique. The foundations of this way of counselling are non-judgmental and truly therapeutic. Person Centre Counselling offers:

  • A space in which to be heard
  • Non – judgmental listening
  • Reflective interventions
  • A safe environment
  • Unconditional respect for feelings
  • Empathetic understanding
  • Honesty with respect
  • Confidentiality

In direct contrast to the pessimism of Freudian theories and analytical methods, person-centred counselling is rooted in humanistic philosophy. It has an inherent optimistic view of the individual and the belief that each person has the capacity to rnove in the direction of a more fulfilling and satisfying way of being and living their lives. It is based on a trust in the inner resources of each individual to find their own answers and direction to achieve. Person centred counselling aims to help you be able to understand your own limitations and potentialities by exploring how you experience yourself, promoting greater self awareness and acceptance and thus empower you to make your own choices and control your own life.

I believe that if you feel there is someone listening carefully to you with some respectful understanding of your feelings, then you begin to believe you are worth hearing, that you deserve some attention - that you are worth it.

By approaching counselling in the belief that you have the answers to your unhappiness, and in telling your counsellor about what is wrong, you will hear the beginning of a way forward.

Together you can build on that beginning until your world changes from an unhappy one to a more hopeful place and develop coping skills.

If you are physically ill there might be a good chance you may be cured with the correct diagnosis, correct prescriptions and relevant support. However, we do not give the same attention to the invisible hurt that can accompany illness and accident, loss and unhappy life history. The invisible hurt is not as straightforward as physical illness but is just as real. There is emotional bleeding going on long after the event that triggered it. There is an equivalent to scar tissue that restricts movement and numbs feelings. There is a whiplash effect of panic, depression and self-doubt. Counselling seeks to address this invisible hurt: to heal, restore and renew. For me the most effective form of counselling is Person-Centred.

So what might it be like for you on the receiving end of Person-Centred counselling? I suppose mixed feelings, some unexpected. You may experience anger and frustration, because you are hurt and want advice and answers and do not get them. Maybe frustration that the listener is not critical of those that have hurt you and not shocked by what you have done.

Sometimes it can be a surprise, that for the first time in a long while you are being listened to carefully and your feelings are being taken seriously. Eventually even a bit amazed that your life can be changed because you were able to talk and putting feelings into words for another to hear is the beginning of managing them for the better.

There is also something else going on that affects the healing process. This is the time you spend with your counsellor, what goes on between you. The message you would be getting from this safe stranger in this secure place is an assurance that you are worth taking seriously, that your concerns are real ones. Here is someone who sees strengths in you when you cannot and is optimistic about your future when you do not believe you have one. Yet as you believe your counsellor is sincere and has some insights, you begin to realise they are seeing in you someone you dimly recognise from way back before you were so knocked about, someone with a little more confidence and a little surer of where they are going.



By Carol Ferrary
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