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Person-Centered Theory and its approach to Counseling and Education

It is known that in the psychology field, counseling and education is a Person Centered theory which offers new way to look at the individuals and their development as well as help them in making changes (Kirschenbaum, 2004). In this essay I will try to determine and explain the core conditions of the PCT model and the essay will also undertake in-depth examination of the PCT approach and its methods. The essay will also discriminate about the working at different competence levels at relational depth. This will also give a glance about different ranges of Person-centered counseling skills and through the essay properly utilize of the feedback taken from the DVD session and will also assess their development.

According to the person-centered theory, client can be viewed as their own best authority on their own experiences, clients are also considered as fully capable of fulfilling their own potential for growth (David, Daniel, Szentagotal, Eva and Macavei, 2005). We get to know through this approach that either in potential or adverse conditions, individual growth may get restricted or they could not grow or develop as required. In other words, we can say that at the stage where people started getting denials and positive regards from others or when people start putting conditions on positive regards, at that time they begin to lose touch about their own experiences (Hackney, 1992).

Fritz Perls is considered the foremost practitioner of gestalt counseling and psychotherapy, but the method we discussed here was influenced by other gestalt theories proceeding to him. Gestalt is a German term and it is used to define a unique patterning in which parts are integrated into perception whole (Ellis, 2003). This psychology is based upon perception and cognition, this therapy was also focuses on personality, psychopathology and psychotherapy (Schultheis et al., 1999). Here we will provide short overview of the Gestalt theory and further I will discuss critique of Rogers’s theory including strengths and weaknesses of each and this theory is discussed on the perspective of personal and professional basis.

Carl Rogers is a humanistic theorist and origins of person-centred therapy can be found in reaction to it. This theory was first named ‘counselor-centred therapy’, because during this therapy all tests are administered by therapist along with preparing questions and asking them and it will also suggest courses of action for the client (Rogers, 1986). Rogers’s took subtle changes on the term client at the place of patient during his revolutionary approach, and he called the approach provided by the name, ‘non-directive counseling’. Later on this approach was named by “person-centred counseling” because it emphasizes its positive focus and thinking on individual’s capacity (Rogers, 1975).

Person centred approach is my core model which aim at Rogers’s (1957) core conditions, and there are four core concept for this approach which I will follow during the practice session while counseling client. The first concept is self-actualization and it requires that the person should react with their fullest potential for discovering themselves and growing personally (John Wiley & Sons, Sprenkle, 2003). Positive regard is second concept, where one person needs appreciation, love, and respect from another person. In between two positive regards first is unconditional which receives positive responses from people no matter the action or behavior. Conditional positive regard is reinforcement of certain actions and behaviors over others (Guterman and Rudes, 2005). Congruence is third concept of PCT, and it is considered as the agreement between person self-concept, their real self and their ideal self. Empathetic understanding is fourth concept which tells that therapist or counselor should have the ability to see the client world as his or her own world.

Different working Competence levels at Relational Depth

At the beginning of counseling session I ask my client if he want to drink something. If its coffee, I always prefer to watch client activity and start an informal conversation at beginning. Offering coffee etc. will add few more minutes of informality, which can tend towards revealing the feelings of the individual. I feel it is important because people may be different in informal setting as compare to formal setting and it will be effective for me if I see client in natural circumstances. Firstly I will clarify my client Dale that confidentiality is a primary condition of counseling and I will surely kept your trust and autonomy (Tursi and Cochran, 2006). I will explain him that, his problem or whatever concern he share will kept confidential. During the counseling session I will follow self-actualization, positive regard, congruence and empathy the four core concepts stated by Rogers’s to successfully accomplish my each session (Mearns and Thorne, 1988).

After making Dale comfortable, I asked him that what is his problem which brought him for counseling and what he want after completing the therapy session. Dale replied that, he does not do any of the things he enjoyed to do. He does not feel energetic and does not have any desire to involve or be surrounded by the people and he want to be like he was in his old days. I let him finish what he trying to explain about himself and I understand what he is saying and by using my reflective skills and summary on his behavior, I told Dale that, correct me if I am wrong but I strongly feel that, something has changed in your life in a bad way and you cannot digest the fact till now. Dale replied, yes, you are absolutely right, I was totally a party guy, I used to make lot of fun and also used to make my wife laugh so hard. He continued that he and his wife get along so well and had precious time with each other. I noticed that the change is affecting negatively on Dale and his married life.

I showed empathy on his feeling and it is one of the core concepts given by Rogers’s theory and core condition of person-centred approach. During the continuation of the session I really feel empathetic towards the client and allow Dale to talk about his issue more and at his each conversation, I share sincere congruence with Dale. Dale further continued that he felt guilty due to his behavior and also because his wife have to tolerate with his bad moods. He feels it is not fair to her. She deserves so much better and Dale just doesn’t know how to change his feeling. I was non directive and show empathy unconditional positive regard as it looks in DVD. It is also seen that I use my listening skill effectively, I look attentive paraphrasing and reflecting, and due to this I get confidence of non-directive, and I tried to adopt my client perspective, his perception and issues from his point of view. Due to this the client also opened up and talk more about his present problems, which was worrying him and not any point he feel judged.

Different Ranges of Person-Centered Counseling Skills

Dale has depression problem, it is identified at the starting of the session and it is his goal that he want to be like his old self again. As a counselor I encourage Dale to explore his situation and his problem. While looking at the DVD it is seen that, I communicated with empathy and showed genuine interest towards his problem and also showed acceptance throughout the conversation by using nonverbal cues like using facial expression, nodding and so on and try to reflect Dale’s message effectively. The DVD shown that, during the session I provided information about the forms of depression and ensure him that it is not a big deal, if handled and practiced what I have given well. I encouraged Dale to conceptualize his guilt over being depressed which causing him more distress.

Dale has irrational belief about himself that, he must not be depressed and also that he is an inadequate husband and this belief has been challenged here. Dale have to realize that he was rational to apply an integrated approach concerning about his depression and due to this concern, he came for attending counseling session. It is just the case that he is guilty about being depressed and it was irrational and not helpful for his situation too, he should accept the fact and also try to reduce it and assure him that I am with him in the process of leaving depression.

As a counseling therapy I told Dale to read book on rational emotive and behavior therapy. I told him think about personal example of Rogers’s Personal-centred approach that was discussed in the session. The objective of giving this exercise to Dale is that, it would help him begin to identify and dispute the irrational beliefs which contributes to his depression. At the end of the session, Dale was quite encouraged from re-evaluation of his problems and goals for counseling and I will get positive response from Dale as he express desire to learn more about his depressive thinking and also want to know what things influences his depressive thinking. Dale explained and shares his thought about the session and told that due to this session he had got the idea about how he can change his metal state, rather than just focusing on how his depression is debilitating him and he also assure me that he do not make negative thought over his mind.

In this session we will discuss about the case study of Dale again which will incorporate characteristics, skills, knowledge and attributes of person centered therapy which revolves on the concept of talk psychotherapy so as to motivate the clients to have a feeling of self and to steer them into a positive path and direction. My task was to make my client fully potential to fulfill his dreams and aims of growth by gaining something positive out of everything. I helped him overcome the scenario and his problem being faced.

I acted empathetically to dwell deeper into his problem and his perspective regarding the problem to have an emotional connection with my client and to make him feel the positive vibes (J.C.Norcross) so as to help him to gain his self-confidence. I also adopted a strategy of congruence to transparently relate myself with my client in a genuine way. To provide my client with an unconditional positive regard, I tried to make him feel self-empowered and capable to value himself (J.C.Norcross) .

Utilizing Feedback from DVD Sessions and Assessing Development

The condition of my client Dale was general, yet thoughtful in which he wanted to regain his momentum and live his life again with full zeal, exuberance and in a vivacious manner. In the very beginning of our session and counselling process, Dale gave a brief description about his condition again so as to find about the proceedings and gave a deep description of his feelings, his aspirations, his desires and the way he looked at his problems. He also told me about his expectations from this session. Dale was feeling bummed and wanted to make his life come back on the previous terms. My skills and previous knowledge gave me a hint to make him, self-motivated to find strategies and small moments in which can elevate and lighten up his mood. My reflective skills gave me a sign of a general routine sadness which is borne out of missing the happy routine which once my client had.

I allowed him to talk more and in detail so that we can progress step by step so that I can ponder in greater and more minute details. He started with a general discussion about the ways in which he used to have entertainment and fun in his life which is deprived of now. I took a moment from him to understand the core of the problem that is missing of a life which was full of fun and happiness. I was not directive at this point as I wanted him to open up completely and discuss his problems fully. I used my listening skills and appeared to be really attentive, non- directive, reflective and patient (Lapworth, 2010). He wasn’t feeling judged and therefore, I was able to make him comfortable and understand the issue from his point of view.

He further unfolded the issue that he missed playing cards with his friends as his wife didn’t like him being social and attend social activities without her presence. This was the main crux in a nutshell of his problem. I stayed silent and pretended to think something so as to give him time to introspect upon this issue and have a session of self-exploration. Meanwhile, I tried to place myself in my client’s shoes and genuinely gave him space to think about his issue. As a training counsellor, it was my duty to uphold the principles of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard. I felt his grievances, his anxiety and his feelings. The scenario at the time of counselling was a state of profound contact and a sense of engagement between me and my client in which I got fully engrossed and utterly real with my client’s condition and feelings.

I wasn’t being sympathetic but empathic so as to understand the situation with full intellect in the overflowing emotional training session. I tried to match up the scenario with the situation of my client with one of the theories and with the help of my past experience I tend to match it up with the ABC theory (Eysenck, 1970). In this situation the discontentment of his wife with him playing cards with his friends and becoming social without her presence was the sign of Activating (A) of an event. The Belief (B) was that, now when he was married, he should have engaged with the activities which were associated with his wife and not meet up his friends for fun and frolic without her presence. The Consequence (C) was feeling deprived, lonely, and resentful leading to our meeting of counselling session.

Gestalt theory on Perception and Cognition

My focus was to dwell deeper in the situation and come up with something that can balance his mood and make his life smoother in context of his belief of fun and his wife’s views regarding his social life. My direct view and first suggestion was to have a friendly relationship with his wife and to discuss all the terms of happiness and fun as perceived by her. I tried to be like a friend and recommended him with full unconditional positive regard that his feelings were not wrong and even his wife was not totally wrong. It was just a requirement of a balance between friends and wife which my client required to understand humbly and act intelligently. The core keys of my success and understanding power are as a result of the person centered core therapy and conditions including authenticity, reflectivity, honesty and value (Dryden, 2007). I do not tend to hide my suggestions and genuine views about the client under the veil of my professional role rather specialize the suggestions according to the problem of my client.

Recreational time shall be divided among friends and wife, to make them openly discuss the issue to get a clear idea of the socializing preferences each of them have and to come on a general basis terms. I helped him to undertake Negotiating socializing preference difference exercise (Harris-Brooks, 2008) with the help of which the couple can plan and find mutually agreeable arrangements of social activities. I was trying to be more practical yet emotional with my client so as to make myself neutral in his problem and come up with innovative solutions by closely examining a case study or situation and come over an unbiased resolution. I tried to be humbly genuine and not just act to be genuine with my client. I, being a counsellor, am not able to have the skills of a specialized psychotherapist doctor rather have tactics and skills to provoke, motivate and inspire my client to self-govern the development (Egan, 2006) in the situation which is a transition from being depressive, sad and exhaustive to being satisfactory, happy and contended by going on a right direction and a right path.

I did empathized with him at every stage of development of the session and tried to hold my emotional and mental state by projecting a transference of feelings. I was not much focusing over the problem solution pair but was analyzing the situation deeply to gain an entrance into his world so as to feel and experience his feelings.

For a better analysis, I wish I could have included the domains and dimensions of psychodynamics and psychoanalysis (Geldard, 2005) to understand the philosophical aspect lying behind the case study. I could have used these theories to make my client more comfortable with the type of the situation he was facing and all the unconscious feelings that were going into his mind.

My client was resistant and reluctant in the very beginning by opening up his personal life and his views with his wife. He was also reluctant to give some information of his wife which was necessary for me to have an analysis of behaviors, expectations and personality of my client and every person associated to him in the case study. I made him feel comfortable by giving a clear description about my process of counselling which unveils with time and situation and may demand some extra information for a better analysis.

Critique of Rogers's Theory

At the very end, I asked him about the feedback of both the sessions and I was glad to hear that he was satisfied with my efforts and skills amalgamated to give him clear, comprehensive and concise solution to his problem. I made him feel confident and self-sufficient to ponder upon any issue that might appear in the near future. My session helped Dale to recognize himself, clarify his views on himself and build up confidence on himself. He got to understand the problem resolving strategies by a sense and attitude of self-determination and resolution of choices. The longer domain of my approach was an assimilative integrated counselling with a keen and more focused approach of person centered counselling therapy. Being a beginner and learner, I wish to learn more and more in this scenario and make the lives of my clients better in some or the other way.

Reference List:

David, Daniel., Szentagotal, A., Eva, K., & Macavei, B. (2005). A synopsis of rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT): Fundamental and applied research.  Journal of Rational &Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, 23 (3), 175.

Dryden, W. (2007) Dryden’s handbook of individual therapy, 5th ed. SAGE Publication.

Egan G. (2006) The Skilled Helper: A Problem-management and Opportunity Development Approach to Helping. Brooks/Cole.

Ellis, A. (2003). Early theories and practices of rational emotive behavior theory and how theyhave been augmented and revised during the last three decades. [Electronic version].  Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy,21 (3/4). Retrieved January21, 2007, from ProQuest database.

Eysenck, H.J. (1970) Amish-mash of theories; International Journal of Psychiatry, 9:140-6.

Geldard, D. and Geldard, K. (2005) Practical Counselling Skills Training: An Integrative Approach, Palgrave Macmillan Hampshire.

Guterman, J., & Rudes, J. (2005). A solution-focused approach to rational-emotive behavior therapy: Toward a theoretical integration. [Electronic version]. Journal of Rational &Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, 23 (3), 223-244. Retrieved January 16, 2007, fromProQuest database.

Hackney, H. (1992). Differentiating between counseling theory and process. [Electronicversion]. ERIC Clearing House on Counseling and Personnel Services. RetrievedJanuary 22, 2007, from ERIC database.

Harris-Brooks, J, E. (2008) Integrative multitheoretical Psychotherapy, Lahaska Press. USA.

J.C.Norcross, &M, R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy. New York.

J.C. Norcross. (Ed), Handbook of Eclectic Psychotherapy, New York.

Josefowitz, N., & Myran, D. (2005). Towards a person-centered cognitive behavior therapy. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 18 (4), 329-336. Retrieved January 20, 2006, fromAcademic Search Premier.

Lapworth, P. & Sills, C. (2010) Integration in counselling & Psychotherapy 2ND ed. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Kirschenbaum, H. (2004). Carl Rogers’s life and work: An assessment on the 100th anniversaryof his birth.  Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 1, 116-125.

Motschnig, R., & Nykl, L. Toward a cognitive-emotional model of Roger’s person-centered approach.  Journal of Humanistic Psychology,43(4), 8-45.

Rogers, C. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95-103.

Schultheis, G., O’Hanlon, B., & O’Hanlon, S. (1999). Brief couples therapy: Homework planner. New York:

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Sprenkle, D. (2003). Effectiveness research in marriage and family therapy: Introduction.[Electronic version]. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29 (1), 85-96. RetrievedJanuary 26, 2007, from ProQuest Psychology Journals.

Tursi, M, & Cochran, J. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral tasks accomplished in person-centeredrelational framework.  Journal of Counseling & Development, 84, 387-398.

Mearns, P., & Thorne, B. (1988). Person-Centred Counselling in Action (Counselling in Action series). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. London: Constable.

Rogers, C. (1959). A Theory of Therapy, Personality and Interpersonal Relationships as Developed in the Client-centered Framework. In (ed.) S. Koch,Psychology: A Study of a Science. Vol. 3: Formulations of the Person and the Social Context. New York: McGraw Hill.

Rogers, C. (1975). Empathic: An unappreciated way of being. The counseling psychologist, 5(2), 2-10.

Rogers, C. (1986). Carl Rogers on the Development of the Person-Centered Approach. Person-Centered Review, 1(3), 257-259.

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