Person-centered counseling can be referred to as client-based therapy. It was invented by a renowned American psychologist known as Carl Rogers. This kind of therapy is aimed at helping individuals to develop their own self-healing abilities or to demonstrate self-growth. Rogers denotes that individual aspects such as self-understanding, fundamental life attitudes, and self-direction conduct are enhanced by the arousal of an individual’s innate resources. Furthermore, he argues that for these resources to be tapped, person-centered counselors should ensure that certain core conditions that provide a climate favorable to psychological attitude growth prevail. The core conditions include unconditional positive regard, emphatic understanding and congruence (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009).
Core Values of Person-Centered Counseling
Unconditional Positive Regard
This core value refers to the counselor’s unconditional and non-judgmental client acceptance. It enables the client to explore freely all thoughts, constructive or unconstructive, without fear of dismissal. The counselor approves the client’s reality and maintains a positive attitude even when the client’s actions are not pleasing. Most importantly, the counselor allows the client to communicate freely without having to meet any condition or particular behavioral standard. The client’s behavioral growth occurs due to the counselor’s genuine willingness and caring attitude towards the client’s experiences. The counselor prizes and cares for the client non-possessively throughout the counseling process (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009). The counselor’s main focus is on the client and not on the clients’ problems. This allows the client to discover his/her potential and self concept.
Empathic understanding requires the counselor to understand the client’s feelings and thoughts accurately. This makes it possible for him/her to share genuinely the experience from the client’s perception. The therapist gets so much involved in the client’s world to comprehend the client’s meaning and awareness. This also enables him/her to discover hidden meanings that are below the client’s awareness level. This demonstrates that the client’s concerns and experiences have value. Also, it means that the client is appreciated and accepted. The client is thus provided with a climate that is conducive for listening attentively to the counselor’s innate experiences (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009). Emphatic understanding arouses the sense of humanness and concern because the therapist shares the client’s feelings and thoughts experienced during counseling process.
Congruence is a crucial trait in person-centered counseling. It means that the therapist is authentic and genuine to the client. The therapist remains transparent and avoids putting up professional façade or personal front when engaging the client. The counselor opens up to the client in order to eliminate any room for authority or hidden knowledge concerning his/her internal and external experiences. This ensures that the client develops lasting trust toward the counselor. In short, the counselor becomes transparent to an extent where the client feels that the therapist is not holding back anything.This trait stimulates the client’s reasoning such that he/she begins to view the counselor as a general friend who shares his/her feelings (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009).
The Value of Applying Person-Centered Counseling Aspects
The application of these core aspects across all the treatment approaches is accompanied with indispensable counseling positive outcomes. The outcomes are positive because the aspects create a climate that is conducive for personal change and behavioral growth. Basically, accepting individuals, and prizing them unreservedly makes them to develop an appropriate attitude towards self-caring. The values enable the clients to grow and develop their own ways of doing things. In addition, they enable them to think independently in ways that promote self-worth. Their expressions facilitate the actualization tendency of the clients.
These aspects make individuals to feel a sense of acceptance and love. This enables them to develop a strong attitude toward themselves. Moreover, they enable persons to become congruent with their life experiences, and as a result, they promote realism, and genuineness. Furthermore, they enable clients to discover their own techniques of effective growth. Congruence helps the clients to improve their actualization tendency. This helps them to develop confidence in their innate capacity and potential for their self-growth. The clients become free to share their deepest experiences and feelings with the counselor. These result to full functioning individuals who use their talents and abilities to realize their potential.
The application of these aspects makes the clients to be their own authorities. Counseling only focuses on the client’s feelings and thoughts. These provide the clients with an effective environment to discover and encounter themselves. Also, it helps them to cultivate an inner understanding of their own feelings, thoughts, and meanings. The Rogerian core values of person-centered counseling allow the clients to become self-aware and discover their hidden potential. Furthermore, they are indispensable in stimulating the clients’ underlying potential. This allows them to discover the problems they face and to decide on what should be done. The core values are majorly focused on helping clients to achieve individual growth.
Across all treatments, these humanistic therapy approaches enhance the feeling of self-worth. They also increase congruence level between the ideal and the actual self. Moreover, this therapy is centered on the client rather than the client’s problems. This helps the client to reconnect with him/herself. Moreover, the client’s locus of evaluation is amended so that he/she learns how to be independent or less dependent on external values and standards that other people impose on them (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009).
Does Psychological Dysfunction exist in the Existential Therapy Model?
According to recent research, psychological dysfunction does not exist in the existential model. However, many individuals have divided views concerning this connotation (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009). Existential therapy model does not focus on the client’s past but on current possible choices that the client can make in order to grow. However, reference is made to the client’s past life to enable the construction of a better approach to self discovery and growth. The therapist works with the client to discover possible options that the client can pursue (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009). Existential therapy teaches the clients to find for themselves their own life, and to live with it in curiosity and marvel. This enables the client to view their life as a process and not a onetime event. This eliminates death associated fear and life anxieties (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009).
Existential therapy has divergent views. This is the reason why many people perceive psychological dysfunction differently. Some theorists believe that psychological dysfunction exists in existential therapy only when an individual denies existential anxieties such as death, independence, worthlessness, and loneliness. On the other hand, antagonist theorists hold that there is nothing like psychological dysfunction in existential therapy. They also provide that existential anxieties cannot be referred to as psychological dysfunction. Instead, the anxieties can be viewed from a different perspective that individuals express their desired way of living. However, they may find it hard to agree with the anxiety of being alone in the world (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2009).
Seligman, L. W. & Reichenberg, L. W. (2009). Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy: Systems, Strategies, and Skills. Boston: Pearson.