August 20, 2009

Person Centred Therapy – shaping my work…

Filed under: life..., projects, psyche... — benmetz @ 11:05 am

I’ve recently completed the first year of a two year foundation in counseling and psychotherapy at Birkbeck College.  It’s been a fascinating journey with a fantastic teacher and a great group of fellow students.  The course contributed substantially to my work – how I relate to and work with social entrepreneurs and business folk from all over the world.

One person stands out from the last year of learning – Carl Rogers, founder of the person centered school of psychotherapy.

Part of the wider field of Humanistic Therapy, Person Centred Therapy (also called Client Centred Therapy) proposes that if the therapist is able to show unconditional positive regard and empathy towards a client while being genuine in and of themselves (also called congruence) then this triumvirate of factors creates a supportive environment that allows the client to enter the process of becoming a fully realised person.  It is interesting to note that Rogers thinks that one will never become a fully realised person, rather that “life, at its best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed” (how very Zen of him!) and that these three building blocks create the conditions in both therapist and client so they may enter into this continual process of becoming and thus live a rich and fulfilled life.

This triumvirate, called the core conditions, has allowed me to codify existing thoughts and practice around a unifying theory that previously were scattered and often unrelated.  I work in the third sector supporting social entrepreneurs who oftentimes work in ways that place their beneficiaries at the centre of service design and provision.  I have consistently been struck by the similarities in approach across wildly different fields of work and the consistent success yielded by working in this way.  However until I had the opportunity to explore Person Centred theory and then examine the subject matter of my day-to-day work through this lens I had no framework to compare, evaluate and suggest improvements to my clients.  These core conditions and much of Rogers’ work has provided me with a set of tools with which to support the individuals and organisations I work with to increase the impact of their work.

Rogers, almost 50 years, after publication of his original theories, remains an important figure in the field of psychotherapy.  If acknowledged his theories, as well as much else from the oft dismissed world of ‘psycho-babblings’ could inform and improve much of the second tier, intermediary, support – or whatever else you want to call it – sector that seeks to realise step changes in the third sector activities.  After all isn’t it the case that all change comes from within???


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