Person Centred Therapy is simple yet sophisticated – it puts you, the client at the very centre of the work in a way which can and does lead to insight and change. Developed over the years from the work of Carl Rogers in the 50’s and 60’s it remains a very modern indeed a post-modern approach with an emphasis upon process rather than outcome and upon relationship as opposed to personal striving.
Person Centred therapy whilst non-directive does place positive personal change at the heart of its conception of the psychologically healthy person and whilst other approaches for instance, may help to re-configure a person’s cognitive processes, person centred work is more radical than that – it proposes that change is constant but that we can learn to exist within this turmoil of change, not only exist but thrive within it!
The person-centred therapist starts with the assumption that both therapist and client are trustworthy. Trustworthy in a sense that the therapist really believes that every human being has “an underlying and instinctive movement towards the constructive accomplishment of its inherent potential” (Thorne B). To explain this instinctive movement (the actualising tendency) Rogers often used to recall a boyhood memory of his parents' potato bin in which they stored their winter supply of vegetables. The bin was in a dark basement with only a small window. Despite the highly unfavourable conditions the potatoes would nevertheless begin to send out spindly shoots in an effort to reach the distant light coming from the tiny window. Rogers compared these striving and struggling potatoes with human beings whose development has been changed or warped in some way by their unique experience. However they continue against all the odds to strive towards growth, towards becoming who they really are.
It is the actualising tendency within each person which can be trusted. The therapist's task is to help create the best possible conditions for growth.
This approach is used by many people today, not just within the counselling field but within the world of work, teaching, nursing, sociology and in any relationship setting. Whilst sometimes difficult to describe because it doesn’t rely upon technique it is nevertheless founded upon the personal qualities of the therapist and the client to co-create a non-judgemental and empathic relationship. Rogers stated that optimal helping relationships are best created by a person who is psychologically mature. I doubt whether this has anything at all to do with age, but how far we have learnt about ourselves, our way of operating our lives and understanding that the relationships we create can help us, at the same time.