"It is not that this approach gives power to the person; it never takes it away"
(founder of the Person-Centred approach)
You might well imagine all counselling to be 'person
centred' - and indeed practitioners of other
counselling approaches (even technique-centered ones
such as CBT) often claim to be person-centred in the
delivery of their particular therapy.
So what is it that distinguishes truly Person-Centred
counselling from these other therapies; what makes it
For me, it is its relationship to trust and power. The Person-Centred therapist trusts the client to
be the expert in their own experience - at a time when the client may have lost sight of this
Rather than the client trusting the counsellor to have some special technique that will 'fix' them,
the Person-Centred counsellor invests his trust in the client; in their perspective and in their
resources - so enabling them find their own trust in themselves, and to act upon it.
The intent of the Person-Centred counsellor is not to fix or to patch-up the 'problem' - it is to enable the client
to be both mender and maker in their own lives.
If I notice a client seems to be experiencing persistent, unhelpful thoughts (the issue which
CBT specifically addresses), rather than set the client homework tasks for combating these
thoughts (an approach which can make clients feel they are doing something 'wrong'); I would
flag such thoughts up - and seek to engage the client's own curiosity about what is going on
there; and collaborate with them in developing a more robust stance towards such thoughts - out of
their own experience and understanding of themselves.
I certainly might have ideas about how they could approach this. But these would be offered as
suggestions - for the client to take up (or not) - not as prescriptions. As keys for reflection on the self,
not instructions for its 'repair' (because all of my experience tells me that that is not how it works!).
By such means, the client not only becomes less susceptible to such thoughts; they also gain
confidence in their own ability to 'right' themselves - a confidence which will then be available for
other aspects of their self-recovery.
"You are a confident companion to the person, in his or her inner world"
My expertise as a Person-Centred counsellor lies not in the application of some external technique
intended to 'fix' the problem - but rather in helping the client to draw upon their own deep
understandings of themselves, enabling them to recognise and access their own inherent capacity
for self-righting and growth. What I offer is my familiarity with the process of such self recovery
- how it can be kindled, nurtured and sustained.