Evaluate the Claim That Person Centred Therapy Offers the Therapist All That He/She Will Need to Treat Clients
In this essay I will be linking the advantages and disadvantages of Person Centred Therapy and trying to establish whether a therapist can treat all clients successfully using just the one approach or whether it is more beneficial to the client for the therapist to use a more multi-disciplinary approach. I will be looking at the origins of this therapy with specific reference to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers and exploring the important foundations essential for the therapy to be recognised as patient centred.
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Firstly, by having congruence, the counsellor responds in a genuine, open and authentic manner which sends the message to the client that it’s OK to feel and communicate feelings. However, congruence can be difficult to achieve as it involves the counsellor being very aware of their own underlying feelings. Sanders P et al (1995):67 discuss the fact that ‘in the same way that the client does not have to be completely incongruent and struggling in all aspects of their life to feel the need to help, therefore the therapist does not have to be completely congruent in every aspect of their being’. Rogers C (1967):69 asserts that no one can be completely congruent but that the ‘more genuine and congruent the therapist in the relationship, the more probability there is that change in personality in the client will occur.
Rogers describes empathy, the second condition, as the process of understanding another person as if you were that person. He described it as ‘a way of laying aside our own views and values in order to enter another’s world without prejudice’. By being empathic a counsellor can help a client to explore their inner selves further which makes change more likely to occur. Sanders P et Al (1995):94 discuss the fact that a counsellor cannot understand another person unless he pays them a particular sort of attention. They assert that it has to be ‘focussed and undivided’ and it is very intense in nature. Essentially the counsellor has to be able to put himself in the same position as the client but it is important that he/she understands the notion that just trying to be empathic isn’t enough. The client has to experience that empathy himself stemming from the therapist. By providing empathy, the counsellor allows the client to inspect themselves leading to an improved understanding of themselves that also helps them to consider alternative options and explanations.
The third condition, unconditional positive regard occurs when the counsellor offers his client respect, acceptance, caring and appreciation irrespective of the client’s behaviour and is recognised as the most important feature of person centred counselling. By permitting the client to be himself he is no longer able to have the attitude ‘I’m only good enough if’. Sanders P (1994):70 states that unconditional positive regard is also known as non-judgemental warmth which is an accurate description of what the counsellor is wanting to achieve. Rogers C (1961):62 suggests that UPR means ‘an outgoing positive feeling without reservations, without evaluations’.
Abraham Maslow defined a pyramid of needs which he felt gave a better understanding of the fact that people are always striving to achieve their personal potential (self-actualisation) and that if an element is missing from lower down the pyramid it will need satisfying before being able to move up to the next level. The base of the triangle is physical needs such as food and water, the next level is safety and...