Person-Centered Theory by huanghengdong


First, what Person-Centered
        theory is NOT
It is not just microskills or basic listening and
It is not just empathic responses.
Do not (repeat, not) give me a
conceptualization in which you report using
PC theory because you were empathic and
attended to the relationship
   Thus ends my rant on this pet peeve
 Person-Centered Personality
  Theory: Main Assumptions
People are inherently good and will develop
in psychologically healthy way - if social
environment allows (core philosophy)
Behavior is motivated by actualizing
tendency - tendency to move toward one’s
full potential, an innate need to grow
People have natural wisdom based in the
organismic valuing process that provides a
guide for growth
Developmental process of forming self-
concept (all the experiences that make up ‘me’)
    Need for positive regard from others and self.
    Regard for self is learned through experiencing
    it from others
    Conditions of worth that may be internalized
    into self-concept (!)
Ideal (or idealized) self based on conditions
of worth is incongruent with actual self
Incongruence leads to distortion of
experience and inauthentic living. This is the
definition of dysfunction.
      Nature of Therapy
PC Counselors do not use formal assessment
- no diagnosis
Because of assumptions of human potential,
counselors only need to promote trusting,
respectful, accepting climate where clients
become self-aware and self-accepting and
growth continues. Counselor not seen as
assuming expert role or “doing” anything to
the client.
       In Rogers’ words
‘As a therapist, I do not want to lead
the client, since she knows, better than
I, the pathway to the sources of her
pain … What I wish is to be at her side,
occasionally falling a step behind,
occasionally a step ahead when I can
seem more clearly the path we are on,
and taking a leap ahead only when
guided by my intuition’ (Rogers, 1986).
Facilitative Conditions (necessary and
sufficient for growth)
   Empathy (advanced empathy that goes
   beyond recognition of obvious experiences to
   increase awareness of less clearly
   experienced feelings)
   Acceptance - unconditional positive regard
   Genuine (congruence)-being oneself, sharing
   helpful reactions with client
Clients become more self-aware through
counselors’ empathy that focuses them on
their experiences.
 General Counseling Goals
Not resolution of specific concerns, but
client should:
   Become open to all experiences - living
   without distorting
   Diminish conditions of worth and begin to
   trust in own self
   Re-establish congruence between
   experiences and actual self
Returning to self-actualization
  Evaluation of the theory
One of most influential theories. Forms basis
for many other approaches - therapeutic
Erroneous belief that counselors are just
reflecting and passively following the clients.
In reality, counselors are active collaborators
with clients.
Counselors (and students) can be impatient
with the nondirectiveness and struggle with
need to “do something.”
Neglects the important educational role that
counselors often play (expert role).
Misunderstanding the model may lead to
being supportive without challenge
Easy to reflect negative energy/client
Clients in crisis may want more
Rogers was criticized for having too positive
a view of people
Individual and Cultural Diversity
 Emphasis on individual self and internal locus
 of control may be less compatible in
 collectivistic cultures - ignores social
 Some cultures might expect more direction
 Focus on feelings/insight is not equally
 valued in all cultures
 Focus on client’s perspective and respect for
 client may make it more compatible with
 diverse groups - work within their cultural
 Very powerful to empathically understand
 and connect with client
Other sources of information (British
Association for the Person-Centered
Association for Humanistic Psychology
Society for Humanistic Psychology

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