A Guide to Person-centred Counselling

Developed in the 1950’s from the work of American psychologist Carl Rogers, person-centred counselling helps people by creating an open, safe space to talk.

The person-centred approach teaches therapists a specific way in which to respond to the clients’ personal experiences. Many people feel that the basic principles of person-centred counselling are essential for any type of therapy to be effective.

What is person-centred counselling?

The person-centred approach believes in each person’s capacity to find their own answers to life’s problems and their own ways to cope with life experiences. Person-centred counselling is an approach to therapy based on the idea that natural human potential can be facilitated and encouraged by a unique, trusting relationship between the client and the therapist.

A person-centred therapist believes in the client’s potential for self-fulfilment and offers support, guidance and structure so that the client can discover within themselves their own solutions to any personal issues. In person-centered therapy, the focus is on the person, not the problem. Most person-centred therapists will not challenge or direct a client. Instead, clients are allowed to express themselves in any way they choose. Person-centred therapy believes answers to the clients questions lie within the client and not the therapist.

Person-centred therapists are non-judgmental and believe that life experiences and personal life choices result from a complex set of psychological and emotional forces. Therefore, person-centred therapists do not judge a client’s behaviour or personal choices. The person-centred therapist does not see one type of life or lifestyle as being better than another. The person-centred approach allows the client and therapist freedom to talk openly about anything in a private and non-judgemental environment.

What are the essential components of the person-centred approach?

The person-centred approach to counselling includes a set of basic principles or conditions that person-centred therapists closely follow. These principles help therapists understand the client’s life experiences from the client’s point of view. A key component of the person-centred approach is that the therapist does not act as an expert on the client’s life, but instead supports and motivates each client towards their own potential for personal development and change. The person-centred approach is somewhat based on the concept that the client is the only ‘expert’ on himself.

Empathy is an essential part of the person-centred approach. Empathy is the ability of one person to understand and respect the life experiences, feelings and choices of another person. Through empathy, person-centred therapists maintain an unconditional positive regard for their clients and it is within this important framework of empathy and acceptance that effective therapy takes place.

It is no surprise that person-centred counselling appeals to many people. It is a client-led, non-judgemental approach that gives the client control over what is discussed in therapy. Many people are attracted to the informal, compassionate nature of this warm and relational counselling approach. Unlike cognitive behavioural therapy, person-centred counselling does not usually involve techniques or homework between sessions and unlike psychodynamic psychotherapy, the person-centred approach does not always focus on past events in a client’s life. Person-centred counselling is often about what’s going on in a person’s life now.

Some advantages of the person-centred approach include:

  • Person-centred therapy focuses on the here and now, rather than the past, and encourages the client to think about what’s currently going on emotionally and psychologically
  • The person-centred approach trusts in the client’s personal capacity for self-development and self-fulfilment
  • The person-centred approach encourages self-awareness, authenticity, honesty, self-acceptance and self-trust
  • The person-centred approach is usually seen as less formal and less structured than some other types of therapy
  • The person-centred approach allows the client to set his own goals and move at his own pace

What types of issues can be addressed with person-centred counselling?

Though most life issues can be helped using person-centred counselling, these issues, especially, may benefit from this relational approach to therapy:

Is the person-centred approach effective?

For most people, yes. The core conditions of the person-centred approach to therapy make it one of the most popular forms of therapy. It is often seen as a gentler approach to therapy and less formal than some other types of therapy. Progress in person-centred counselling results from the unique relationship that develops between the client and the therapist. This healthy relationship between client and therapist is, over time, built on trust. Through being non-judgmental, open and approachable, person-centred therapists are able to form warm and supportive relationships with clients in a private and confidential setting. It is this unique, private therapeutic relationship that enables personal development and change.

With the person-centred approach, the client leads the way. Discussions in therapy are initiated and led by the client and the client can speak about anything on his mind. The therapist is trained to encourage these discussions and to draw from the sessions useful insights and clarity about the client’s perspectives on life and life issues.

In short, person-centred counsellors provide favourable conditions and a unique environment in which clients may come to terms with negative feelings, difficult emotions and other personal issues. All of our counsellors and psychotherapists have some training and experience in the person-centred approach. If you would like more information about person-centred counselling, please get in touch.

Person-centred counselling is just one type of therapy we provide in London

While person-centred counselling is a popular and effective type of therapy, there are also other kinds of therapy that we offer in central London. Our therapists are trained and experienced in several different types of counselling and you may want to read more information about other types of counselling and psychotherapy that we offer:

Getting started with person-centred counselling

Your first appointment will be an opportunity to discuss your hopes in therapy and we can advise you on whether person-centred counselling is the best therapy for your specific needs. As well as counselling in person at our London centres, we also offer online counselling. To book your first meeting with one of our therapists, please telephone us on 0333 207 9330 or you may book your first appointment online.

If this is your first experience of therapy, you may find that setting out to begin therapy can feel confusing. There are many types of therapy in London and many kinds of therapists. We have put together a list of frequently-asked questions about therapy together with our answers that may be helpful.

If you would prefer a therapist who is trained in person-centred counselling, please tell us your preferences at the time of booking your appointment.

Our person-centred therapists

Julie Cully, Sara Barry, Dwayne Jackson

Click to see all our therapists’ profiles.

Guides

Appointments available

Mondays to Fridays
7.30 am until 8.30 pm
Saturdays and Sundays
8.00 am until 6.00 pm

Call to book a first appointment
0333 207 9330

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Some answers to questions that may help

We have put together a list of common questions that or clients sometimes ask, together with our answers.

Our guide to couples counselling

Our guide to couples therapy may be helpful to anyone thinking of starting therapy with their partner.

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Some of our clients have written about their counselling experience with us. We love getting feedback.

Counselling, psychotherapy, couples counselling in London since 2006

Client Reviews

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