What is Person-Centred Counselling?
When is the last time you sat with someone and felt they really just listened to you and they could truly understand how you felt? Hopefully the answer is recently, but unfortunately for many this is not the case. You may be reading this article because you are interested in starting therapy, or you may just be wondering what Person-Centred Counselling is. I aim to give you a quick tour of this type of therapy and it's benefits.
Person-Centred approaches to therapy (there is also art therapy available) are based in what we term humanistic therapies. The belief that creates the foundation of this approach is that if you can be your true, authentic self, you can live a happier life. Everyone has the ability to achieve their potential, if they hold themselves in high regard and make choices to progress.
So how would a person-centred counsellor see my issues?
Well firstly, they would be interested in what you think of your concerns, after all you are the person with the experience living your life and feeling how you do. Counselling is about understanding your circumstances, feelings and thoughts and how this is affecting you.
We all have our true self - this is the person you really are, your identity, and all the things you love, are passionate about and want to achieve. But over time, starting in childhood, we adapt who we are, and how we act based on the judgement of others. This is a survival technique, especially in childhood - we are social beings and we need approval from others to be accepted and integrated into groups and society. However, it is when this happens often that we develop almost another form of ourselves, one that is acceptable to others, but not true to who we really are or want to be.
This is what brings people to counselling; a feeling of stuck-ness, dissatisfaction, depression or anxiety. People know something is wrong but can't put their finger on why that is.
What happens in sessions with a person-centred counsellor?
As a talking therapy, person-centred sessions involve client and therapist talking about the issues the client brings. In some therapies, the counsellor would interpret the client's information and hypothesise about what is wrong. Person-centred counsellors would not do this, and it is a collaborative effort between both parties to understand what is going on for the client.
The counsellor's role is to create a safe environment for the client in which to explore their concerns. There are some key ways of being a person-centred counsellor does this. Firstly, providing empathy; the counsellor really wants to understand what it is like for the client, how situations make them feel. Secondly, they aim to show the client positive regard, no matter what - because everyone is unique, there is no judgement about lifestyle, circumstance or choices made. And also, the counsellor commits to being open and honest with the client.
Clients see progress over a number of sessions as they are given the opportunity to consider their circumstances and evaluate their concerns without being judged or told what to do by someone else. This process activates change in people and they go on to live happier, more fulfilled lives. Sometimes, counsellors also use creative tools to aid clients, things such as creating family trees, journaling and creating art.
Where do I find a person-centred counsellor?
There are many places online to find a counsellor, a few in the UK you could use are:
Adam Rothwell MBACP is a registered person-centred counsellor in private practice. He sees clients online and in person in the South Manchester, Stockport and Cheshire East areas of North West England.