You have found a therapist you like the looks of, and they tell you they are ‘person-centred’, or 'client-centred'.
What does this type of therapy involve? Is this the right therapy for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Some forms of therapy like CBT are just short-term, others like psychodynamic are only long form. Person-centred counselling is unique in that it can work either way. You and your therapist can discuss if you’d like to work in a time-limited way, or leave things open-ended.
With 'therapist led' psychotherapy or counselling, your therapist has a framework they guide you through. Or they ask you to talk about certain things, like your parents or your past.
Person-centred therapy, on the other hand, is ‘client led’. You are the one who decides what will be talked about.
If you want to focus on present issues and not your childhood, that is fine. Remember, it's up to you what you discuss. You are in charge.
Traditional therapies like psychoanalytical, Jungian, and even psychodynamic have a tendency to refer to those who do therapy sessions as ‘patients’.
Person centred-therapy belongs to a group of therapies called ‘humanistic’ that put an end to this imbalance of power in the therapeutic relationship.
You become a ‘client’, and you are an equal to your therapist.
A person-centred therapist is not interested in hiding behind his role of ‘therapist’, or acting as if he or she is special because they are a therapist. Again, it’s more of an equal relationship. Part of that means that your therapist will work to be who they really are around you.
Again, person-centred therapy comes under the humanistic umbrella. Humanistic therapies are all about human potential. Their focus is on helping you recognise the amazing inner resources you already have.
Your person-centred therapist is there to help you see your resources and put them to work. They aim to help you reach your potential and make better choices.
One of the core concepts of person-centred therapy is empathy. Empathy is not sympathy, which is disempowering and makes us feel hopeless.
Empathy means that you therapist respects your struggles and understands that it must be hard. Instead of feeing sorry for you, though, they believe in your potential to find your way through.
Many modern therapies focus exclusively on one issue, such as relationships, negative thinking, or trauma. Person-centred has no limit or agenda. You can show up with as many issues as you want.
Person-centred counselling is not for everyone. For example, if you have a personality disorder, ADHD, or suffer from PTSD? Person-centred might not be ideal.
But it is thought effective for issues like the following: