Person centered therapy is a fairly new approach. Born from the minds of such contributors as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Rollo May, this approach focuses on the client not the symptom. The person centered approach to therapy is a blending of the existential approach and the humanistic approach.
The existential approach takes a philosophical view of the clients’ problems with emphasis on responsibility and freedom. Problems are based on anxiety related concepts such as isolation, loneliness, and death. The cause of anxiety is the inability to make good choices and the consequences that follow. The approach accepts that outside influences play a part in how choices are made, but ultimately the responsibility for these choices lies within each person. Existential theory focuses on the “here and now.” The past does not play a pivotal role. With the existential approach responsible decision making is the pathway to freedom. “Only when individuals have learned to make choices and to live with the consequences are they truly free” (Parrott III, 2003, p. 152).
The humanistic approach works off the belief that people are basically good. Evil within people comes from outside influences. The focus for the client is self-fulfillment and growth. With the humanistic approach negative attitudes and assumptions inhibit people from living full lives. Problems are addressed in the present with an emphasis on not solving the client’s problems but guiding the client to self-actualization and the ability to be fully functioning.
Both approaches emphasize the use of empathy, encouragement, acceptance of the clients’ experience, and interest in the client’s growth. Self-actualization is important in both approaches to affect change.
Parrott III, Les. (2003). Counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Retrieved from The University of
Phoenix eBook Collection database.