Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy Essay Sample
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Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy Essay Sample
Julie, a 32-year-old graphic designer, presents distressing symptoms in several aspects of her life, such as low mood and a lack of motivation, she has low energy and finds it a huge effort to do just about anything, especially things that she once loved to do. She has not been socializing with her friends, as she no longer finds enjoyment in it and also finds it to be too much of an effort – even though she used to really enjoy these times. From this, her relationships are suffering, and she is afraid that she will lose these friends if she does not do something about this.
In her work life, she feels that the work she is producing is not of use, and has a very low view of herself and her abilities as a designer – she is becoming increasingly worried that because of her lack of acceptable work, she may lose her job as well. Julie has been presenting with these symptoms, which have been becoming increasingly prominent and distressing, since Christmas time, therefore she has been dealing with this for close to 12 weeks now.
3 weeks ago she was prescribed antidepressants by her general practitioner, but these have not seemed to help her with her symptoms. There are many perspectives and approaches of which would look at Julie’s case and could help her with these distresses, and we will look at three of those: Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and . Carl Rogers developed Person-Centered Therapy, which is based on humanism – which dictates that each of us have the natural abilities and potential to actualize, through which we can find meaning.
A theme in this approach is a sense of trust in the client’s abilities to move forward constructively if there is a facilitating environment (it is the role of the therapist to provide this environment for the client). In this approach, the client-therapist relationship is crucial for the therapeutic process, as there are some necessary and sufficient conditions for change that need to be met – for the therapist: congruence (genuineness or realness), unconditional positive regard (acceptance and caring), and accurate empathetic understanding (an ability to grasp the conversation and concepts deeply in the subjective world of the client).
This approach, according to Rogers, has not the sole goal of solving problems, however to assist clients in a learning process so that they may learn a higher degree of self-awareness and independence so that they may be able to better cope with problems as they identify them – through the therapeutic process the client will be learning how to identify these problems and the goal is that they will be able to do this in the future without the facilitating environment or a therapist present (learning the skills to do this by themselves).
The approach of Person-Centered Therapy becomes a preventative approach in that it is used to treat the client, but it also is used to help prevent the client from needing to return to therapy once they have gained the adequate skills as they go through the therapeutic process. A therapist using the Person-Centered approach to therapy would not necessarily conceptualize Julie’s case at all, in the sense that the therapist would be more likely to not be taking notes in the session, and would not be thinking critically and analytically during the session.
This empathy-based approach uses a great deal of deep conversation in which the therapist must be very present in the moment and often is considering their own feelings and trying to feel the emotions and situation of the client instead of thinking of conceptualizing the problems.
Rogers’ therapy was considered even radical when it was created, as it was not like any “normal” therapeutic process – as it did is non-directive and does not value the role of assessment – it is a very conversational process in which the therapist and client needs to effectively communicate emotions and feelings, and the therapist then communicates effectively their empathetic understanding of the feelings and emotions and can express their own feelings and emotions as well relating to those expressed by the client.
The therapeutic relationship is crucial in terms of trust, equality – in which the relationship is characterized. The process of change depends greatly on the quality of the equal relationship between therapist and client. Person-Centered Therapy could be an effective approach to help Julie, because of the motivation she feels for change – she expresses that she needs to make a change so that she does not lose her friends nor her job. This intrinsic motivation that she is expressing is significant to her counselling journey, in that she has accepted that there is a problem, and is motivated to change it.
Julie would be a good candidate for Person-Centered Therapy because she is seeking out help herself, which speaks to her level of motivation to change and she will be able to take charge to direct conversation. Person-Centered Therapy could be effective for Julie, where she feels her depression is limiting her in her activities such as going out to socialize with friends, or affecting her effectiveness at her job, this approach to therapy could allow to give her the tools to help her feel empowered in different dynamics in her life.
The empathy-based approach to Person-Centred Therapy would allow her to feel more comfortable in the therapy sessions and the environment, and allow her to be more open, as the equality of the relationship is much less intimidating, and can give her the confidence to apply these conversational techniques in other relationships and in other settings. The therapist using a Person-Centered approach would put an early emphasis on the client’s reflections of feelings, and in the case of Julie would want her to talk about her feelings of worthlessness, of sadness, of feeling stuck, etc.
and then reflective statements would be made by the therapist to help facilitate the conversation further. During these conversations, the client would realize for themselves the problems, would talk them out (almost completely themselves with some odd reflections from the therapist – creating empowerment in the client) and then they would be coming up with the solutions on their own as well throughout the session.
A therapist using an approach of Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, more specifically Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), would conceptualize Julie’s case as being caused by earlier experiences such as in childhood, these experiences leading to emotional disturbances could be irrational beliefs of significant others, parents, or peers leading the individual to then re-create these irrational beliefs throughout their lives.
They may do this by actively reinforcing self-defeating beliefs, such as in Julie’s case she says ““I am stuck in a rut”, “Everyone else is doing better than me”, and “I’m going no-where”. Those self statements reinforce the irrational beliefs, and the individual then begins to act out those beliefs – such as Julie is when she is not creating adequate quality work for her designer job, or when she does not hang out with her friends when they ask because she does not want to be a burden.
Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy is largely based on the assumption that it is not the repetition of others’ irrational beliefs about an individual that causes the disturbance, but the repetition of the individual themselves that eventually leads to distress and self-defeat, as well as the emotions and cognitions playing a role in influencing behaviour, and behaviour influencing emotions and cognitions. Another assumption of this therapy is that the individual themselves contribute significantly to their own psychological problems, as well as the specific symptoms due to their extreme beliefs about situations and events.
This therapeutic process is a very educational process, in which the therapist acts as a sort of teacher to the client, collaborating with the client to work on strategies for constructive thinking, and the client then uses these strategies in everyday life. There are three ‘musts’ (or irrational beliefs) we internalize that leads to self-defeat: 1) “I must do well and be loved and approved by others”, 2) “Other people must treat me fairly, kindly, and well”, and 3) “The world and my living conditions must be comfortable, gratifying, and just, providing me with all I want in life”.
Approaches of Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy have significant evidence to help with mild to moderate depression, and therefore would be well-suited for intervention in Julie’s case. Unlike Person-Centered Therapy, REBT is more of an educative process in which the therapist has specific steps and tasks to show the clients how they integrated irrational beliefs into their daily lives and then shows them how to engage in countering beliefs that will change the “musts” into preferences.
It is crucial to first identify goals that are realistic for the client to achieve these goals and be successful in changing their current situation. The therapist will help the client to identify between realistic and unrealistic goals that will help them to learn to be more accepting and unconditionally accepting towards themselves and others. In the case of Julie, the therapist would first discuss her feelings with her and her feelings about the current difficulties she is experiencing, they would discuss her beliefs about her friends and family, and her work environment.
For a while now, Julie believes that she does not want to be a burden to her friends and that if she refuses to go out with them this won’t happen. She also believes that she is not doing good work at her job, and that she has no future in her business. The therapist could use different techniques (cognitive, emotive, or behavioural) to challenge Julie’s irrational beliefs such as the use of humor, shame-attacking exercises (not recommended for Julie), doing cognitive homework, role playing, and more.
Cognitive methods may be homework that consists of taking risks which places them in uncomfortable situations of which challenge their irrational thinking so that the client can get used to these situations. The client will educate themselves with the help of the therapist with materials that will encourage them to challenge their negative self-talk as well as learn new rational ways of thinking.
For humor, this is to displace the importance that client’s give to their irrational beliefs, however this is not to be used to belittle the client or their feelings and is most useful when they are able to join in on the joke with the therapist. If the therapist were to use role playing techniques, they could role-play a conversation between Julie and her friend, Julie would be able to note her feelings during this conversation, and the specific irrational beliefs that lead her to feel these feelings, and then challenge the conviction that she must
As you can see, there are several approaches and techniques that could be used therapeutically with Julie to assist her with her symptoms that she is experiencing, all with different ways of conceptualizing the symptoms and the distress, different therapeutic goals and functions, as well as different dynamics to the therapeutic relationship. Each approach is different in its own right, but all three could be effective in their approach to therapy for Julie, and it could be dependant on Julie herself which therapeutic approach would be best for her and work best for her, depending on her personality and other extenuating factors.
With any of the three approaches above, after completion Julie should have a much better understanding of how these symptoms manifested and how they were able to become distressing to her, she will have a better understanding of her own emotions, and where they originate from – and in some approaches, gain a better understanding of how to deal with them before they become distressing as they did previously without needing the assistance of a therapist again.