The person-centred approach to Counselling was founded by Carl Rogers in the 1940s. It still remains one of the most taught approaches to Counselling in the UK and is one of the most popular therapeutic approaches to Counselling. In this post, I will be giving a brief outline of ‘what is the person-centred approach to Counselling?’


Person-centred Counselling is a non-directive approach to Counselling. This means that the therapist is not in control of what you talk about, what you should do or how you use the time in Counselling sessions. The reason for this is because, in the person-centred approach, the Therapist believes that you are the expert on yourself, not the Therapist.

Although this might seem strange, and counter to many Counselling theorists such as Freud (and the fact that the Therapist is the professional and you are paying them!), it comes from a belief that you are the person that knows what hurts, you know yourself better than anyone else and you are the only person that lives with you 24/7!

The Actualising Tendency

It is also rooted in one of the foundational beliefs of the person-centred approach – the actualising tendency. The actualising tendency is the belief that human beings have an innate tendency to move towards fulfilment, development or at the very least, maintenance (you could say that even the fact of going to therapy is an example of this actualising tendency).

The Core Conditions

With the actualising tendency held at the foundation of the approach and the belief that people can ultimately be trusted and are the best guides for themselves, Rogers then came up with the best way to facilitate this exploration in Therapy. These were called the core conditions and there were:

1) Congruence – The therapist is Genuine / Real
2) Unconditional Positive Regard – Aka Acceptance / Non-judgemental
3) Empathy – Understanding the client

Rogers believed that the Therapist did not need any other skills, techniques or tools for Therapy to be effective.

In Summary…

Person-centred Counselling continues to be one of the most widely taught and used approaches in Counselling and has been adopted by many other professions. It can often split opinion on its worthiness as a stand-alone approach in Counselling but having been the first approach to use research in Counselling and still standing the test of time in today research, it looks favourable!!

This is a very brief introduction to person-centred counselling. If you would like to read more articles on the approach or learn at a greater depth. Please view the rest of my posts on the person-centred approach.

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