What is Person Centered Therapy?
by Rebecca Hill
In it’s pure form, Person Centered Therapists believe that the client is the expert, knowing what is best for themselves. It is for them to decide:
- What they need.
- The focus of each session.
- The direction of every conversation.
- What to do next.
The therapist’s role in this instance is to continually acknowledge and reinforce this.
This approach can sometimes give therapy a bad reputation. If taken too literally, the therapist uses a lot of repetition and makes many soft noises, repeatedly implying agreement and understanding. Often I’ll hear clients saying things like, “my previous therapist didn’t really say very much so I didn’t feel like it was helping.”
However, Person Centered Therapy can be extremely effective if used with a little dynamism. My belief is that clients want to interact with their therapist which is why they seek their support and input in the first place. It’s completely possible to host pure Person Centered sessions whilst having engaging interactions.
For sure, each individual knows their preferences better than an outsider looking in, but I am a massive believer in the statement:
You only know what you know.
If you have a problem and you don’t know the answer, no amount of sitting with yourself is going to enable you to figure it out. If you have a problem and you are presented with ideas and insights you hadn’t previously considered, you’ll raise your awareness, whilst retaining control over how to proceed.
This is my approach to pure Person Centered Therapy. I pay close attention to what you say you want and need, but create space for you to choose between new perspectives when you are feeling stuck. It’s my belief that waiting for someone to figure something out, when they don’t have access to the right information, is nothing more than unproductive, stressful and painful. That’s not my style!
I’ll honour you at all times, but I’ll never watch you struggle if there’s an effective way that I can support you.