Person-Centered View of Human Nature

Person-Centered Therapy Chapter 7

1

Person-Centered View of Human Nature

At their core, humans are trustworthy and positive

Humans are capable of making changes and living productive, effective lives

Humans innately gravitate toward self-actualization

Actualizing tendency

Given the right growth-fostering conditions, individuals strive to move forward and fulfill their creative nature

2

Person-Centered Therapy (A reaction against the directive and psychoanalytic approaches)

Challenges:

The assumption that “the counselor knows best”

The validity of advice, suggestion, persuasion, teaching, diagnosis, and interpretation

The belief that clients cannot understand and resolve their own problems without direct help

The focus on problems over persons

3

Person-Centered Therapy

Emphasizes:

Therapy as a journey shared by two fallible people

The person’s innate striving for self-actualization

The personal characteristics of the therapist and the quality of the therapeutic relationship

The counselor’s creation of a permissive, “growth-promoting” climate

People are capable of self-directed growth if involved in a therapeutic relationship

4

Therapy is a Growth-Promoting Climate

Congruence

Genuineness or realness in the therapy session

Therapist’s behaviors match his or her words

Unconditional positive regard

Acceptance and genuine caring about the client as a valuable person

Accepting clients as they presently are

Therapist need not approve of all client behavior

Accurate empathic understanding

The ability to deeply grasp the client’s subjective world

Helper attitudes are more important than knowledge

The therapist need not experience the situation to develop an understanding of it from the client’s perspective

5

Six Conditions **Necessary and sufficient for personality changes to occur

1. Two persons are in psychological contact

2. The first, the client, is experiencing incongruence

3. The second person, the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship

4. The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard or real caring for the client

5. The therapist experiences empathy for the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this to the client

6. The communication to the client is, to a minimal degree, achieved

6

The Therapist

Focuses on the quality of the therapeutic relationship

Provides a supportive therapeutic environment in which the client is the agent of change and healing

Serves as a model of a human being struggling toward greater realness

Is genuine, integrated, and authentic, without a false front

Can openly express feelings and attitudes that are present in the relationship with the client

Is invested in developing his or her own life experiences to deepen self- knowledge and move toward self-actualization

7

Application to Group Counseling

Therapist takes on the role of facilitator

Creates therapeutic environment

Techniques are not stressed

Exhibits deep trust of the group members

Provides support for members

Group members set the goals for the group

Group setting fosters an open and accepting community where members can work on self-acceptance

Individuals learn that they do not have to experience the process of change alone and grow from the support of group members

8

Person-Centered Expressive Arts Therapy

Various creative art forms

promote healing and self-discovery

are inherently healing and promote self-awareness and insight

Creative expression connects us to our feelings which are a source of life energy.

Feelings must be experienced to achieve self-awareness.

Individuals explore new facets of the self and uncover insights that transform them, creating wholeness

Discovery of wholeness leads to understanding of how we relate to the outer world.

The client’s inner world and outer world become unified.

9

Conditions for Creativity

Acceptance of the individual

A non-judgmental setting

Empathy

Psychological freedom

Stimulating and challenging experiences

Individuals who have experienced unsafe creative environments feel “held back” and may disengage from creative processes

Safe, creative environments give clients permission to be authentic and to delve deeply into their experiences

10

Limitations of the Person-Centered Approach

Cultural considerations

Some clients may prefer a more directive, structured treatment

Individuals accustomed to indirect communication may not be comfortable with direct expression of empathy or creativity

Individuals from collectivistic cultures may disagree with the emphasis on internal locus of control

Does not focus on the use of specific techniques, making this treatment difficult to standardize

Beginning therapists may find it difficult to provide both support and challenges to clients

Limits of the therapist as a person may interfere with developing a genuine therapeutic relationship

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