Person-centred therapy was developed by Carl Rogers in the late 1940s. It was a radical move away from the analytical approach and is based on Rogers' own theory of personality.
Since the 1940s, many different types of therapy have emerged, each with their own slick acronyms- DBT, NLP, EMDR to name a few- and the choice for prospective clients can be quite bewildering!
So, is PC therapy still relevant today, when our world looks very different than it did for Rogers in the '40s?
I would argue that the PC approach will ALWAYS be relevant because it is really a philosophy- a way of approaching life itself. It is based on the view that human nature is essentially constructive. In other words, we are all wired for growth and fulfillment. Therefore, the PC therapist assumes trust in the client, that they possess the inner resources needed to move forward; in themself, that they can facilitate change if they can only be real and intuitive; and in the process of therapy.
The guiding principles of PC therapy are empathy, authenticity and non-judgment. The PC therapist prizes the uniqueness of each client, their subjective experience, and their expertise. They take a non-directive stance, offering observations and reflections rather than advice or opinions.
It is common for therapists to integrate several different models in their practice, PC often being a core foundation for their work. The PC approach has also been adopted by other professions and organisations, that recognise the importance of autonomy and choice when caring and providing for people.
I identify as a PC therapist because the theory resonates very deeply with my own values and beliefs, allowing me to practise with integrity. No two sessions are ever the same, because each client is unique, and how they present from one given point in time to the next will differ. The work feels very fluid and organic in this sense, as both the client and I respond in the moment. As there is no formula or set agenda, the client is empowered to take the lead, bringing whatever they feel is important.
I feel that the PC approach lends itself very well to creative ways of working. It allows space for clients to be themselves and express their own preferences within the boundaries of safe, ethical practice. For instance, if a client feels more comfortable outdoors, with the option of moving rather than sitting in a room, at a computer screen, they have the option of walk & talk therapy. Another client might find that engaging in art helps them to express how they are feeling and open up to more painful emotions.
As a PC therapist, I try to remain open to the infinite possibilities that come when working with unique individuals. Consequently, the work is exciting, engaging and I am constantly learning from the experience of being alongside another human being.