Defense mechanisms, the unconscious, coping mechanisms, self-actualization and archetypes are other examples. The ultimate and most useless example is the "little person," that resides in everyone and explains his behavior. These include ideas like soul, mind, ego, will, self and personality. Skinner, instead, suggests that psychologists should put their energies on what is observable, such as the environment and human behavior occurring in the environment (Boeree).
This therapy states three core conditions under which growth may occur (Mulhauser,
2011). These core conditions proceed from the assumption that a person naturally possesses the inner resources for growth. He is the best authority on his own experience. He also believes in his capability to realize his own potential for growth. The therapy, however, recognizes that the realization depends on favorable conditions. Under adverse conditions, a person is often denied unconditional acceptance and positive regard. He then fails to apprehend the true meaning of his own experience. His tendency to grow in meaningful directions is often stunted. Conditional acceptance leads him to incorporate conditions to acceptance into their own self-views. These may include concepts like never being late or always respecting other or keeping the house clean. In the pursuit of positive regard, a person prefers to be that kind of person others expect him to be. Being anything else will risk losing their positive regard. In time, his identity and self-valuation are often replaced by the preferred identity created by others for him. He allows people's judgments and meaning to replace his genuine own. Psychological disruptions develop when his self-concept collide with immediate personal experience. This happens when his own sense or judgment conflicts with the infused self-concept of "ought" from others. These disturbances tend to persist for as long as he depends on the conditional positive judgments imposed by others for self-worth. They also persist for as long as he relies on a self-concept partly derived from positive judgments. His experiences, which clash or challenge infused self-concept, are likely to be confusing or denied in the struggle to deny it (Mulhauser).
These core conditions are unconditional positive regard, empathic understanding and congruence (Mulhauser, 2011). The helper or counselor extends unconditional positive regard if he accepts the client unconditionally and non-judgmentally. This attitude allows the client to address and express his thoughts and feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, without the fear of getting rejected or condemned. For the first time, he will be allowed this freedom without being required to do anything in order to earn that needed positive regard from the helper or counselor. With emphatic understanding, the counselor or helper is able to recognize and appreciate the client's feelings, thoughts and interpretations from his own perspective. She is thus able to see the client's separate world view. This thus tells him that his world view has value and that he himself is acceptable and accepted. By congruence, the counselor or helper becomes a real presence and a transparent one, rather than a cold and separate professional. She has no authoritative air or mysticism about her. The client need not guess on what is true about her (Mulhauser).
Under this theory, these three core conditions are both necessary and enough to effect a psychological change in the client (Mulhauser, 2011). Carlo Rogers was the American psychologist who was the first to formulate this approach in 1930's and 1940's (Mulhauser). Rogers is the father of the humanistic movement in psychotherapy. Its core theme in therapy is unconditional positive regard (Grant, 2011). His Person-Centered Therapy draws from the concepts of humanistic psychology has many similarities with existentialism. Both the therapy and existentialism teach that the client can make positive constructive choices. The helper or counselor or therapist becomes an instrument of change but who does not direct the change in the client. The former only helps develop and prepare the client to grow in it. The helper does this through an attitude of genuine and visible caring, respect, and understanding towards the client to allow and enable him to suspend his defenses and increase his self-awareness. In the process, the helper acquires and reflects the client's view of the world. She must be congruent and show regard and accurate understanding and empathy. She focuses her energy on the quality of the therapeutic relationship. She becomes a model of persons yearning to be more real. She is genuine, integrated, and can openly express feelings and attitudes in the therapeutic relationship (Grant).
The therapeutic process focuses more on the client than his problem (Grant, 2011). It enables him to reconnect with himself. Therapy helps him to deal with present as well as future problems. It also helps him become aware of his true self and to develop congruency. It allows him to suspend his learned defense mechanisms and become truer to himself. With a new self-perception, he is also better able to accept and understand others (Grant).
Limitations and Criticisms
The helper or therapist may be too dogmatic in the use of the reflective approach to be real to the client (Grant, 2011). She may also become irritating to him with repetitions meant to elicit reflective statements from the client. The Person-Centered Therapy also reduces the significance of the client's past. It is not too effective with a client who is not communicative (Grant). Fulfilling the core conditions set forth in this theory is something that all good therapists already do in making clients feel better (Mulhauser, 2011).. Advocates believe that this criticism grows out of a misunderstanding of the real issues involved in the core conditions. This is especially true of the third core condition of congruence. The success of some therapeutic techniques depends on the helper's willingness to restrain, mentally form some assumptions about the client or hide her personal reactions behind a professional front. The effectiveness of these techniques should be tested against the characteristic openness and honesty of congruence. Some may not seriously take the findings of empirical research on the effectiveness of counseling with the use of other techniques. The conclusion that the quality of a therapeutic relationship is the major factor to effectiveness may also be underrated. These are, however, controversial in that providing the three core conditions need not be the only way to establish a quality relationship (Mulhauser).
There are further and deeper matters, which the theory seems to avoid (Mulhauser, 2011). One is that it does not tell or explain what experiences or philosophies the helper infuses into the therapeutic relationship. It does not say if the self should be developed in some particular way, such as by obtaining some particular background knowledge. If two counselors both manifest the conditions to some degree, should the client prefer the counselor who is more skilled in a specific field? Besides academic expertise and personal history, other factors should be explored (Mulhauser).
This theory should be used with clients with a strong need or urge of exploring themselves and their feelings (Mulhauser, 2011). It is useful to clients who strongly desire to explore themselves and their feelings and who put worth on personal responsibility. On the other hand, it may not be as helpful to those who want a counselor or helper to offer them extensive advice, to analyze their problems and their minds. Clients who need or desire to address specific psychological habits or thinking patterns may not all find this therapeutic approach specifically useful. There are many and varied individual therapeutic styles among person-centered counselors. Some of them will be abler than others to directly deal with these issues (Mulhauser).
Counseling is that interaction between a helper and a client, meant to help the latter solve his problem through the use of psychosocial adjustment techniques by the former. The essential characteristics of the helping relationship between them are the task, the helper and the client, and the information, which occurs during the helping process. The task may be in the form of assistance or education. Assistance is a response to an immediate need. Education is long-term and meant to help the client solve both his present problem and similar problems in the future. Motive and self-image influence the process and the outcome of the helping relationship. Motives are power, affiliation and achievement. The prevailing characteristics of the first session are listening and observation, confronting negative emotions, positive suggestions and options, goal-setting and reinforcement. BF Skinner presented his Behavioral Theory in eliminating undesirable behavior. The Person-Centered Therapy lists three core conditions, in which growth may occur. It is suitable to specific clients more than others. #
Boeree, C.G. (2006). BF Skinner. Personality Theories C.G. Boeree. Retrieved on February 8, 2011 from http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/skinner.html
Dodd, G. (2011). Counseling techniques and skills -- an introduction. Ezine Articles:
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Grant, S. (2011). Person-centered therapy. California State University Northridge.
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