We all have these one defining moment which shapes our lives or one revolution or extraordinary experiences which occur in society or in a company. These not only shape us in good or bad but they become the foundation of everything that happens in the future.
Some are a man landing on the moon, the world wide economic crisis, winning a world sporting event and so on. A certain history gets created which we know is something special and defining. So much so that it gets termed as an era.
But there are also certain revolutions which are sidetracked by that one big boom. Take any particular industry or evaluate your own personal life. You getting your dream job might be the defining moment of your life and is in tune of what we are talking about.
But how conveniently do we forget the support of our partner or parents and many other vices which lead us to that. Or certain changes and traits which are part of you in many ways but are not known but felt by people. Before I get vague and get into philosophical constructs let me get straight to the point. Person centered therapy is that element in therapy which provides the right and ideal conditions for a client.
The concept seems straightforward enough as to what it means and the crux of this therapy is the assumption that we all as humans want to grow and improve. And it is we who knows best what we want for us. Sounds pretty basic and rudimentary right?
But psychology and therapy was never conceived like this. It’s not as crazy or absurd as it sounds and that’s why according to me this topic of discussion fits the bill perfectly when it comes to how the simplest of things are most difficult to spot. This reminds me of something a famous journalist Brenda Ueland once said about Van Gogh the world renowned painter.
“When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamp post, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: “it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks.” And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it. “When I read this letter of Van Gogh’s it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art. Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done before time, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about design and balance and getting interesting planes into your painting, and avoided, with the most astringent severity, showing the faintest academical tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on.
But the moment I read Van Gogh’s letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it.
And Van Gogh’s little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamp post against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care.”
Person centered therapy was just that. Carl Rogers highly popularized and developed it in the 1940s which shaped and changed the way how therapy was conducted. Freud, who was referred to as the father of psychoanalysis brought the boom in therapy. People know his work irrespective of what one has studied or pursued in life.
Definitely psyche was placed importance because of him. If we go back to his era we would find that patients were diagnosed and treated purely on the basis of a behavioral and medical model where there was no mention or existence of psyche. He worked on this realm. He made interpretations and observations with his clients.
And now we’ve refined them and made them more solid. More extensions and elaborations to the psyche of was done by different associates of Freud and by other psychologists. The foundations were laid by him and many greats after him made it either more holistic or spiritual or practical and so on. Rogers was one of them.
Even though person centered is called a therapy it’s not entirely it. It’s more a philosophy. And yes a theory is based on some philosophical insights but it’s not entirely a philosophy. Rogers was the first one to put in everyone’s mind that the person who comes for any help is not a patient but a client! A patient would seem logical in a clinical setting but here the person has all the answers within them.
And this could only work in a counselling setting. Imagine how absurd and horrifying it would be if you being a doctor would ask the patient how to go about making certain incisions for surgery. Medical science is very much complete and their expertise carried out by what is being done normally makes total sense.
But every person is unique and they all come with their own complexity and life problems. This does not defy or demean all the psychological knowledge in the world. As a professional psychologist the theory and knowledge helps understanding a client immensely but that’s only a part of the whole process of conducting sessions.
So you might be wondering what is this therapy bringing to the table? The answer is as “simple” as the therapy is. If the answer of all the problems are within the client. Then the therapy IS also in the therapist itself! Have you worked on yourself first before providing any form of professional help and assistance to others?
As a person and in a counselling session are you empathetic enough? Are you willing enough to provide unconditional positive regard to the client without your own beliefs and judgments playing in the picture? Are you open and congruent with your client?
These points are the foundations of this philosophy based therapy and if these questions are answered in affirmative then not only you can lay the foundation of using any form of therapy but also you will be a great counsellor for everyone who will come to you!