Person-Centred Approaches

Developed based on the works of Dr. Carl Rogers, an American psychologist, the Person-Centred Approach to counselling and psychotherapy was viewed as incredibly radical, even revolutionary for the times (1940s-1960s) when it was introduced.

Instead of operating under the theory that the therapist is an expert, this non-directive theory trusted the inborn tendencies (referred to as actualising tendency) of humans to find fulfillment of their personal potential. This theory highlighted that in a certain psychological environment, the fulfillment of personal potentials includes a longing to be known by and know others, sociability, and a need to be with others. Additionally, it includes being trustworthy and trusting, showing curiosity about the world, being compassionate and creative, and being open to experiences.

Dr. Rogers described the psychological environment as one where a person feels free of any physical or psychological threat. This environment is usually achieved when engaging in a relationship with someone who is empathetic (deeply understanding), genuine, and accepting with unconditional positive regard.

Originally developed as a psychotherapy approach (eventually being known as client/person-centred therapy/ counselling), Dr. Rogers and his colleagues later believed that their ideas could be applied to other areas where people were in relationships, such as conflict resolution, teaching, childcare, and management.

Dr. Rogers’ work is still used today by many people who are not practicing counsellors or psychotherapists as guiding principles in their everyday relationships and work. Although on some level, Dr. Rogers’ theory and work can be viewed as simple to describe, it is more difficult to put into practice. This is because the approach doesn’t use actual techniques, but instead relies on the therapist/ person’s personal qualities to build a relationship that is empathetic and without judgment.