Evaluate the Main Elements of a Person-Centred Approach to Counselling

December 4, 2016 Health

This essay will make an assessment of the value and worth of the main elements of the person-centred method to counselling by comparing it with the object-relations school of counselling from the psychodynamic perspective. Firstly it will give a summary of the approaches and then demonstrate their similarities and differences.

The person-centred approach derives from Roger??™s (2008) humanistic theories and concentrates on the core conditions of unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence. The client develops an awareness of their problems which person-centred counsellor??™s believe have resulted from recent events in the client??™s life or lifestyle (2008). Maslow (2008) argues this developing awareness allows individuals to realise the primary needs of self-actualisation and to believe that they are loved and valued by other people. McLeod (2008) asserts that psychological problems arise because clients are experiencing incongruence, an inconsistency between behaviour and thoughts which can lead to self-doubt and low self-esteem. One of the characteristic qualities of person-centred therapy lies with the counsellor showing congruence in their thoughts and actions and for them to allow the client to really get to know and understand (2008).

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The intention of person-centred therapy lies with increasing their sense of worth by coaching them to value their own judgements and attitudes and not to rely extensively on those of other people. McLeod (2008) argues a person in good psychological health continually changes and develops. Therefore the counsellor using the person-centred approach needs to allow the client to discover what has happened to prevent them from going through this process of becoming by listening empathetically and showing ???unconditional positive regard??™. This act of listening allows the client to discover and understand specific features of their psyche that they have previously denied (2008).

The psychodynamic approach to counselling originates from the psychoanalytic theories of Freud (cited in 2008) which stresses the significance of childhood experiences in the development of the adult psyche. The central task was to allow the client to become aware of their unconscious mental processes which drive their adult behaviour. Although Freud??™s (2008) ideas were influential the knowledge must be situated culturally and historically which has led many psychodynamic theorists to modify and adapt them with the aim to intensify and enhance the counsellor-client relationship. The resultant schools of thought moved away from Freud??™s biologically based psycho-sexual stages of childhood development to a more psycho-social area of development where the family environment shapes the adult personality (2008).

Klein??™s (2008) object-relations approach concentrates on the relationship between care giver and child during the early months of life as this has been thought to influence future adult relationships. McLeod (2008) argues that the baby experiences stages ???paranoid-schizoid??™ being the earliest where the infant relates to part objects, either the ???good mother??™ or ???bad mother??™ as distinct units which the baby feels they control. McLeod (2008,) maintains that a caring secure environment will allow the baby to progress to the ???depressive position??™ where they learn that their mother consists of one being who can be both good and bad. The child needs to realise that these unconscious processes are not the cause of events that happen within their world otherwise these ???grandiose or narcissistic??™ patterns of behaviour may transfer into adulthood which may lead to relational difficulties in their adult life (2008).

This essay will now look at the similarities and differences between the two approaches to enable an evaluation to be made of the person-centred perspective. Although both approaches need to develop relationships between the counsellor and client for the person-centred approach relationships with the counsellor are central and the client is seen as the expert. In comparison within the psychodynamic approach the counsellor may be viewed as the expert who uses interpretation to discover the root of the client??™s problems (2008). The person-centred approach uses non-directive exploration and insight to gain a resolution to the clients??™ problems which allows change to come about via the clients??™ inner resources (2008)

From the object-relations perspective childhood and mother-child relationships are the key. This concentration on past events differs from the person-centred approach which concerns itself with present events within the client??™s life. Another key difference between the two approaches lies with the methods used, the person-centred utilises a self-directive approach compared to the psychodynamic approach where the therapist interprets the unconscious mental processes of the client to gain insight into their implicit problems. Additional differences are the psychodynamic approach has much theory behind whereas in comparison the person-centred has its basis more in the phenomenological approach of what the episodes of psychological distress really means to the client and how it really has an impact on their lives (2008). Freud??™s (cited in 2008 theory was to explain and understand the pathology of the psychological distress in comparison the person-centred approach of Maslow and Rogers (cited in 2008) involves the fundamental qualities of joyfulness, creativity and spirituality.

This essay has looked at the key differences between the two approaches and will now demonstrate some similarities. Both approaches are talking therapies that aim to bring a resolution to the client??™s mental problems where the client??™s inner feelings are exposed whilst the counsellors??™ remain hidden from view. Both approaches are non-biological although it could be argued that the object-relations approach evolved from the psychodynamic perspective of Freud (cited in 2008) which has its basis in biological aspects of psycho sexual development of the child. The counselling must be undertaken in a safe environment where the change that occurs within the client is based on a personal level and not in a social context (2008).

This essay has evaluated the main elements of the person-centred approach by contrasting and comparing it with the object-relations school of thought which originates from the psychodynamic perspectives of Freud. Firstly it discussed the evolvement of both the person-centred and psychodynamic perspective and then discussed the similarities and differences that occur to enable an evaluation of the client-centred approach to counselling.

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