Person-oriented counseling is one of the types of psychological aid that can be effective in working with people who are in need of psychological services. Each approach used by a psychologist differs from all the others primarily in the ideas it is based on. Consequently, the technology that results from these ideas also differs. Authenticity, sincerity, and acceptance are the characteristics that make up the specifics of person-centered counseling.
What Makes Person-Centered Counseling an Effective Approach?
For help to be more effective, it is necessary to go through certain stages in the process of working together. At the first stage, it is crucial to create a relationship of trust with the client. Active listening and empathic understanding allow the therapist to look at the problem through the client’s eyes. Then the therapist helps the client to look at the problem from a different point of view, and then the most acceptable ways of solving the difficulties are found. The approach in which clients have the opportunity to speak openly about their problems ensures the effectiveness of person-centered counseling for clients with a wide range of issues (Velasquez & Montiel, 2018). However, much certainly depends on specialists’ personal professionalism and soft and hard skills they have.
The Importance of Genuineness Being Present in the Counselor
The key condition of work efficiency within the framework of this approach is the sincerity and genuineness of the specialist in relation to the client. If these elements are absent, the consultants’ fears start to enter into their relations with the client. Therefore, they become incongruent and begin to behave less professionally. Incongruence generates double bonds with the client, resulting in a discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal behavior, words, and feelings. Congruence, on the other hand, manifests itself in the fact that professionals are sincere and genuine in the process of working with the client (Sutanti, 2020; Kolden, et al., 2018). Accordingly, it allows them to establish effective, constructive relations with those who are in need of help.
Disagreement with the Counselor
Within the framework of this approach, the congruence and genuineness of the specialist is seen as a fundamental requirement that contributes to the client’s growth. This does not mean that counselors have to burden the client with their feelings and problems and express every thought that comes into their head (Ivtzan & Joseph, 2017). The presence of this quality is shown in the psychologist’s readiness to express stable feelings and openness in interaction. The atmosphere of trust, respect and unconditional acceptance allows clients to feel that they are accepted for who they are. In such an atmosphere, clients can be genuine and are less likely to disagree with the counselor’s chosen method of conducting therapy sessions.
The role of Empathy
One of the essential qualities for an effective counselor is empathy. The latter can be described as a process in which the therapist gets closer and closer to the client’s thoughts and feelings. To respond empathically means to let the client know that the therapist understands him or her. At the same time, accurate wording that would not distort the person’s thoughts who has come for help is essential. It is necessary to catch the emotional coloring of the client’s feelings which can be done by asking relatable and appropriate questions (Renger, 2021). Compliance with the emphasized conditions allows for the achievement of the results of person-centered psychological consultation.
To enter into contact with the senses means understanding the meaning that one puts into the experience of one’s past experiences. After all, for each individual, only his or her own experience is authentic and has a more significant influence than any intellectual evidence and conclusions. Therefore, from the viewpoint of personality-centered counseling, the level of psychological harmony in a person’s life depends on his or her ability to listen to their own emotions and feelings. Accordingly, the development of empathy toward oneself and others is necessary for successful therapy. The result of the meetings should be that the client becomes more realistic and objective, and less vulnerable. People who visit the specialist should begin to trust themselves more and understand others better.
The Need for Balance
The therapist’s empathic understanding aims to achieve self-acceptance and trust in the client’s inner feelings, which gradually breaks the psychological isolation he or she feels. To facilitate this process, the person-centered therapist seeks to help the client find his or her inner voice. The therapist does not show clients the way but instead creates the conditions for them to discover their subjective world (Eelen et al., 2018). The counselor provides them with support and care so that they do not give up if something starts to scare them. This is the balance that is so necessary for person-centered therapy. The therapist only creates the conditions for positive change and a complete realization of the client’s potential, but the client makes the choices and decisions.
Unconditional Positive Regard
An unconditional positive attitude implies a demonstration of full support and acceptance of the person regardless of what that person says or does. The therapist should not set any conditions for this. It is known that people who do not meet such a positive attitude from the people around them in life end up forming a negative opinion of themselves, which should not be allowed. Professionals cannot insist that the client change his behavior to please them. Neither can counselors control what clients do nor say what is right and what is wrong. However, it goes without saying that such an attitude does not imply permissiveness or approval of all forms of behavior. By conducting person-centered therapy, the therapists thus give the person a new chance at acceptance. The therapist’s attitude toward clients can create the conditions necessary for a change in their character.
Strategies to Show Acceptance
Conditions must be created in which everything the client has to say is not evaluated, much less denied. In this case, the client feels free and safe to express himself or herself. It is vital to give the client the opportunity for an open dialogue and provide a situation so that the need for love and acceptance from significant others ceases to govern behavior. This does not mean that the person will no longer want to be loved. However, such a client will from now on evaluate his or her words, actions, behavior, desires based on his locus of control. This can be achieved through special training, games, and activities to increase self-esteem.
ACA Code of Ethics
Psychology as a profession is subject to ethical norms that are common to any job, relating directly to the individual. In addition to general ethical requirements, several countries have developed ethical standards and criteria specific to practicing and counseling psychologists. The ACA Code of Ethics included a list of principles and values of the psychotherapy profession. These include promoting human development throughout life, ensuring the safety of the counselor-client relationship, and adhering to ethical principles in work. There is an apparent similarity between the properties of the therapy approach analyzed in this paper and the provisions of the Code of Ethics. For example, within the framework of the person-centered approach, the principles of psychological counseling include belief in the constructive and creative wisdom of the person. Respect for the person and support in striving for personal fulfillment and perfection are presumed. This correlates with the fundamental value of the Code, namely, the development of the person throughout life.
Counseling psychologists must be especially careful not to raise unreasonable expectations or exceed the limits of their competence. Avoidance of social contacts with the client if they are not provided for in the procedure of joint work and refusal to conduct cases together are also special requirements for the psychologist. Within the framework of person-centered counseling, the fundamental value is presumed to be the safety of the relationship between the professional and the client. This value corresponds to the norms of the ACA Code of Ethics. In their practice, counselors strive to avoid mixing therapy and personal contact, as they care for the well-being of the person who has voluntarily agreed to be exposed to help.
Person-centered counseling can be considered an ethical approach because it is respectful and client-centered. The counselor is not allowed to impose his or her own beliefs, which means that communication is conducted on an equal footing. These characteristics of person-centered counseling correlate with the core professional values of the counseling profession noted in the ACA Code of Ethics. Thus, there is no fundamental disagreement between this direction and the analyzed Code, and therefore its application is entirely permissible.
Eelen, P., Depreeuw, E., & Van Den Bergh, O. (2018). The therapist as conditioned stimulus. Psychologica Belgica, 58(1), 172-183. Web.
Ivtzan, I., & Joseph, S. (2017). Client congruence in therapy and its association with mindfulness and the therapeutic relationship. International Journal of Psychology and Counselling, 9(4), 23-25. Web.
Kolden, G., Wang, C. C., Austin, S., Chang, Y., & Klein, M. (2018). Congruence/genuineness: A meta-analysis. Psychotherapy, 55(4), 424-433. Web.
Renger, S. (2021). Therapists’ views on the use of questions in person-centred therapy. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 1, 1-13. Web.
Sutanti, N. (2020). Understanding congruence in person-centred counselling practice: A trainee counsellor’s perspective. Journal of Professionals in Guidance and Counseling, 1(2), 47-55. Web.
Velasquez, P. A. E., & Montiel, C. J. (2018). Reapproaching Rogers: A discursive examination of client-centered therapy. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 17(3), 253–269. Web.