My Understanding of Person-Centred Counselling

2 February 2017

He was therefore left deeply depressed and came into counselling because he knew he could live a more fulfilling and happy life. Rogers developed a set of ideas about how our characters and personality are formed. The extent to which we can see ourselves he termed Self-Concept.

It is “the person’s conceptual construction of himself (however poorly expressed)” (p 10 Mearns and Thorne 2010). The extent to which a client is able to see himself would also be dependant upon how upsetting such self-knowledge(s) would be to them. This contrasts with the Psychoanalytic deas about self-knowledge where the basic biological drives of the Id are always suppressed by higher forms of the self. As we grow we form understandings of ourselves through events and relationships in our lives for example: James had grown up in a family with a distant but authoritative father who barked orders from his study. His mother would fuss about and placate him, and the two sons would follow her lead. Presenting his excellent school reports was James’ only respite to this regime, but as much as he tried he was never as good as his brother.Rogers would say that James had internalised understandings about himself through the incidental and active interactions around him.

My Understanding of Person-Centred Counselling Essay Example

We all use responses in our environment to form a sense of “How we actually are” and “How the world actually is”. In early life a person will create very good and adaptive mechanisms for coping in their environment. They then form the blueprint for our behaviours and relationships in daily life. When these mechanisms are formed in dysfunctional circumstances, these notions of The Self and of The World are misplaced and out of step with our adult lives.This is what had happened for James: “I was always invisible at home” said James (an advertising artist trying for a promotion) “It was just safer that way – to stay out of everyone’s way, to keep my head down. I just got on with school and got good marks ..

. Now no matter how hard I try I just get passed over [for team leader] each time. My work gets into print often enough, but it’s as though I can’t do anything that gets noticed. It’s like I put on a Harry Potter cloak and can’t take it off”A person’s “sense of worth, both in their own eyes and in those of others who have been important to them, is conditional upon winning approval and avoiding disapproval” (p11 Mearns and Thorne ibid): as it was for James. Rogers seems therefore to be describing an emotional consequence resulting from what the behaviourist BF Skinner called positive and negative conditioning. He conceptualised Conditions of Worth as the limited ways in which a person could see him- or herself as being valued. The formulation was also influenced by psychoanalyst Erik Erikson and his ideas of the early stages of development.

Rogers asserted that the child who learns trust and a sense of personal control are more likely to have a sense of self agency and robustness in the face of later difficulties. This comes about when conflicts find a successful resolution leaving both parties emotionally respected and intact. Thus Rogers’ more developed model of how a child is socially instructed can encompass concepts such as shame (Psychoanalysis), Modelling (Albert Bandura) and ideas of Internalization, amongst many others, and as such is more of a meta- model of growth of the personality.In James’ case he knew that if he worked hard at school he could gain his fathers approval. However it seemed that he was in the shadow of his brother, who was also under the same pressure. He had turned to cheating to get better marks to avoid his father’s disapproval. James’ own sense of right and wrong were being clouded by his loyalty to- and competition with his brother, also his need for approval from his father and his sense of duty to protect his frail mother by “not rocking the boat”.

It was hard for him to understand how to “be good” and so he increasingly looked to others to tell him. He no longer trusted himself to judge correctly and can be said to have an External Locus of Evaluation. The harsh conditions of early relationships had created in him an unbalanced reliance on other people. James’ view on the world became frustrated and distorted. He knew that honesty was valued and so were good school marks, but he somehow concluded that he simply wasn’t as loved and cherished as his brother, and no matter what he did he would not fundamentally be worth anything.His parents’ inconsistent style resulted in James not being able to connect with his achievements and celebrate the fruits of his intelligence. As an adult he had a constant drive to continue to achieve and yet his gains left him empty and unhappy.

We might also look here to Martin Seligmann’s ideas of depression being “learned helplessness”: resulting from the absence of control over the outcome of punishments. It was interesting that the adult James was still acting as though he was seeking his father’s approval.He was driving himself forward into more prestigious roles without any increase in satisfaction. Sigmund Freud saw this as “repetition compulsion” in which forgotten repressed traumas are acted out without self-awareness in an expression of the Pleasure Principle: to restore an earlier, happier time. Both Freud and Rogers, in some ways share the view that the client is motivated to self-heal: driven by a biological force. Freud said that an instinct is an urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier stage of things. (Freud 2001).

For Freud homeostasis was most important and thought that the organism is constantly seeking a state of peace. The Object Relations school extended Freud’s ideas to say that this repetition produces an opportunity to gain self-mastery, and thus clients repeat in order to be able to change the outcome, and so find a more genuine solution: something egosyntonic. Clearly, Rogers stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before him. He formulated his ideas around the notion of an Organisimic Self”. It is a fundamental and innate part of the organism which strives for mental health and integration.Our Actualizing Tendency helps us to develop our potentials to the fullest possible extent. We are striving to grow, and growth arises when individuals confront problems, engage, and develop new strategies, skills, views and capacities about life.

Thus life is seen as a creative process of continuously moving forward, not as a state of ultimate arrival. Rogers aim therefore was to help clients to live “an authentic life in which the denial and distortion of experience to awareness is no longer necessary” (p viii Haugh and Merry 2001).Fully Functioning people have no fear of being themselves or of being in genuine and full contact with the world. Having out-lined the basis of Rogers’ theory and a few of his major concepts, I will now go on to describe how those ideas are put into action to form the therapeutic relationship. Rogers thought that a healthy person grows from a healthy relationship with the wider world (Rogers 1957). He therefore asserted that a reparative situation would be a healthy environment which would axiomatically produce ideal growth.He defined therapeutic change as a “.

.. change in the personality structure of the individual, at both surface and deeper levels, in a direction which clinicians would agree means greater integration, less internal conflict, more energy utilizable for effective living” (p 220 Rogers ibid). He identified 6 conditions which were both necessary and sufficient to catalyse a constructive personality change. The first three conditions describe the quality of the contact that must exist between the two people.The client needs to be in a state of incongruence (vulnerable or anxious), yet sufficiently adjusted that they can share a reality with the therapist, and thus be in a relationship. Someone in a manic or psychotic state, for example, is unable to do this.

The therapist must have the capacity to be able to bracket their own personal issues and keep them from adversely affecting the contact between them. This skill is grown from the therapist’s own self awareness (through extensive personal work). They must also acknowledge the gravity of contemporaneous circumstances. A heavy emotional load (e. g. ereavement) might make them less available for the client. Rogers stated, “The therapist should be, within the confines of this relationship, a congruent, genuine, integrated person.

It means that he is freely and deeply himself, with his actual experience accurately represented by his awareness of himself. ” (p224 Rogers ibid). Together these conditions are termed as Congruence, which is described as one of the three core conditions. Using congruence and relational immediacy is very skilled intervention: I was co-leading a group in which Ethel, who had been the victim of severe ongoing abuse.She used a relating style, which was significantly disrupting the group, and she was constantly asking to be “rescued” by others (Eric Berne). My Co-worker became angry with her. The therapist hadn’t recognised (through empathy) that this was way of acting out and what she needed was a measure of kind robustness from the group.

Thinking he was using a congruent intervention, he angrily told her how she was disrupting the group. He also invited the group also to express their anger towards her to help contain her disruptions.Whilst this may have been a true representation of how he and others felt, he had not been able to truly stand in her shoes. He had acted out the counter-transference rather than actually being congruent. Instead of helping her to see herself, my co-worker had re-enacted the dynamic she has within her abusive relationships. The therapist’s personal journey needs to include formal training in theory, but most importantly should also include self-examination in therapy of different types and settings in which the therapist can become conversant with their own issues.

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