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Evaluation of Roger’s Person-centred Approach to Counselling

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 4656 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Counselling Theory

In this assignment I shall provide a wide range of knowledge and understanding covering the specific learning outcomes given. I aim to show the correct sources of research and be able to deliver the information I gather together accordingly. My main target in this assignment, is to take Person-Centred as a whole, dissect it and then evaluate it for what is was, where it has been and for what is has become today.

1. Understand a major therapeutic model of counselling

(1.1) Analyse the philosophy of one major therapeutic model in relation to

  • It’s origins
  • Historical development to present day
  • People influential in its development

During my research of the history of Roger’s person-centred approach, I uncovered information on the counselling directory website, which explained that mental health had originally been detected by the Ancient Greeks and that they were the first to label mental health as a medical concern. I also came across another resource from the counselling tutor website, explaining that counselling goes back as far as the tribal times where people would gather together and share their thoughts and feelings, along with dreams they may have had too.

I found that he was the fourth of six children from a Calvinistic and Fundamentalist family and judging from the information read, they had their strict beliefs to the Buddhist religion. Roger’s is the founder of the person-centred approach and it all came about when he was exposed to different cultures, allowing him to break away from his parent’s beliefs. Doubting his religion, research shows that Roger’s had a few career changes before finally choosing to study within child study, to then further becoming a psychologist. Rogers received his Ph.D. in 1931 where, at his clinic, at the Rochester society for the Prevention of cruelty to children, he discovered and learned about Otto Rank’s theory and techniques, this allowed him to begin his own path to developing his own approach. (McLeod, 2013)

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I wanted to delve into the core of who may have influenced Roger’s and gain knowledge of what helped him develop his ideas and what allowed him to become such a huge influence on others. I managed to find that Roger’s was influenced by, the gestalt theory and was inspired by a man named, Otto Rank (1884-1939). Otto Rank inspired Roger’s of his theory of the individual self. This is when Roger’s believed that he needed to discover a new theory to help create a greater respect for freedom, holism and dignity within a person. He felt the pressure of the behaviourist and the Freudian theories and rebelled against each of them and questioned the limitations of these theories. This encouraged him to develop a theory which allowed his clients to understand that they had resources that one could not even begin to imagine. (Phaneuf, no date) The humanistic approach was invented by Roger’s and Abraham Maslow, this is also known as the ‘’third force’’ in psychology after psychoanalysis and behaviourism. (Maslow, 1968) It is said that the humanistic psychology rejected the psychodynamic approach because that is also a theory which determines human thought and behaviour.

The first force psychology was founded by Sigmund Freud. His theories were led by psychoanalysis. The second force known as behaviourism, was developed by B.F. Skinner, this included the work of Pavlov. Abraham Maslow, (1968) is known as the third force psychologist, the force which believed in free will.

Roger’s explains that positive regard, empathy and congruence can enhance communication and understanding amongst antagonistic groups. The humanistic approach has qualitive methods which reflect a holistic position allowing the client to feel whole and places the client’s experiences and meanings in the centre. (Mcloed, 2015) Roger’s and his colleagues formed workshops to work with people from all over the world, working with people of different religions and race to influence all human relationships. The development over time has proven to be very beneficial for clients with mental health issues as it is one of the most used therapy techniques used to date. Counselling has developed significantly over the years and therapy is often taken place within a private setting, usually in a therapist’s room, although, schools, colleges and near by in the social community, you can seek help from a counsellor. Counselling has evolved remarkably and everyone under going therapy today is seen as equal.

(1.2)        Evaluate the key concepts and principles of the chosen model using relevant examples to indicate the importance to counselling practice.

The person-centred approach therapy is one of the most widely used forms of therapy used to date. This therapy focuses on the client’s personal needs, wants and desires. Prioritising these will help the client set goals and gain them a sense of achievement, also helping them feel confident and positive within themselves. This specific theory is non-directive and it holds the client as the expert. The therapy is built up using four key concepts allowing to stimulate growth within an individual.

The four key concepts are:

Self-actualisation– This helps a client reach their fullest potential through personal growth and self worth. It is also known as the actualising tendency, this is basically the human urge to grow and develop, helping them reach their maximum potential giving the client a sense of achievement and confidence. The actualising tendency is important in counselling as its structured to help the client figure out and solve issues for themselves.

Unconditional Positive regard– Unconditional positive regard is when a client receives positive responses from another person no matter what action or behaviour. This is a person needs. Whether it being love, respect or appreciation received from someone else. A counsellor may not like or approve of everything a client does, however, the counsellor must be able to separate their own views from those of their clients and see the client in the internal frame of reference.

Congruence– Rogers claims we all have three selves and congruence is needed to help a client see themselves as they see themselves, known as self-concept, their ideal self, which is how they would like to be as a person and who they really are, which is their real self, known as the organismic self. Congruence is the sincerity, honesty and genuineness offered from a counsellor, the counsellor must be self-actualised to be able to be themselves and offer this support.

Empathy– This can be achieved by showing the client a true understanding of their emotions and seeing the world as their own. Showing empathy, can, at times, seem disingenuous, it’s very important that the counsellor gains the ability to understand the client on a deep level and gets inside their internal frame of reference to understand their unique perspective of the world. (Rogers 1959)

It is highly important that these four concepts are used throughout humanistic therapy. The focus of this therapy is to allow the client to feel as an equal rather than a patient. It is the client’s job to improve their own life where as other therapies involve the counsellor to help them figure out the underlying issues with them. There is no involvement from the counsellor to problem solve or intervein, it’s simply a development of trust, acceptance and honesty between the client and counsellor that will help the client gain the strength to achieve their very best, mind, body and soul. (Sarah Noel, no date)

During triad work and throughout my development in counselling skills and practice, I have managed to maintain a good knowledge and understanding of the humanistic approach, I believe I have made progression and improved my counselling skills simply by thoroughly evaluating the four key concepts and principles of the person-centred approach. Even now after making effort researching the background of the model, showing interest in Roger’s theory, I feel confident with what information I’ve accumulated, but I know there’s space for progression. My experience in learning and building my own skills has not only allowed me to think positively during practical work, but within theory-based work also.

(1.3)        Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the model.

I shall discuss the analysis of Roger’s Person-Centred approach and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses against this specific model providing a full understanding of the learning outcome.


These are a few strengths of the humanistic theory. (Claire Coddrington, 2018)

  • The humanistic theory allows the client to feel positive within themselves and gain a sense of confidence and self-worth.
  • The environment the therapy sessions are held in are within a warm and welcoming environment where the client can feel comfortable and safe always.
  • Positive regard plays a huge role within this therapy as it helps the client feel appreciated and feel equal to others.
  • This specific theory focuses mainly on the positives, rather than the issues and problems, this is to allow the client figure out their own issues to help them improve their own lives.
  • The humanistic approach is highly client supportive, allows the client to get in touch with their own feelings, helping them grow.
  • It’s the least deterministic approach letting the client feel a sense of free will.


These are a few of the weaknesses I managed to research against the humanistic theory. (Claire Coddrington, 2018)

  • It’s non-directive and relies on the client. the client is in control of their own therapeutic process rather than relying on strategies given from the therapist.
  • Lacks technique and structure. This may take too long as the counsellor doesn’t intervein, the sessions are set at the client’s pace, it offers no intervention.
  • Cultural bias is said to be a weakness for the humanistic approach, not all cultures see an individual as an important part. To some the success of a group is far more important than the success of an individual.
  • May not be suitable for everyone. No two people are the same.
  • This approach may be too positive. Being too positive may not solve an underlying issue of negative behaviour.

(1.4)        Explore arguments against this model.

Many people would agree that the arguments against this model are simply the weaknesses of its theory. Although the humanistic approach has become one of the most widely influential trends in the history of psychology, it does have its critics. The technique of the humanistic approach may not be beneficial to everyone, some clients may expect and appreciate therapy given in a direct approach which offers guidance and advice rather than a non-direct approach. It’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of this theory as they’re no predefined outcomes, therefore, there is no set time limit on how many sessions of therapy are needed.

Studies show doubts that therapists can or should offer unconditional positive regard to clients who may be violent. Showing unconditional positive regard to a person with violent behaviour could encourage them and allow them to think that how they are behaving is appropriate. Roger’s has also been criticised for the lack of attention to the unconsciousness. (Hall & Lindzey 1985) This specific theory is successful to most clients as its focused on the client’s frame of reference, although, can be ‘limited’ to its audience, preferably to a college student or someone with simply adjustment problems, its not ideal for seriously disturbed clients or those labelled or diagnosed as psychotic. (Patterson, 1985)

2.  Understand the principles of other therapeutic models of counselling (Comparative models)

(2.1)        Evaluate the key features of two other therapeutic models and their relevance to the practicing counsellor in comparison to their main chosen model.

In this section of my assignment I shall chose two therapeutic models and in detail, evaluate the key features of each and discuss and compare them to person centred approach. I have chosen to speak of CBT therapy as well as Existential therapy.

The reason for me choosing these two specific therapies out of many other effective approaches to counselling, is simply because these are the two that I really find interesting and I feel positive and confident to discuss each of them in detail, also it allows me to gain a better knowledge and understanding of both models along the way. These two models are also highly influential during my practice work. They allow me to understand and really grasp the differences of each approach and their key concepts. It is important for me in practical work to identify which therapy technique I’ll use for each client. Every client is different, no two people are the same, therefore it relies on client and counsellor bonding and trust for the counsellor to be able to quickly detect which type of therapy would work best to help that client see through their problems. Its also helpful to guide the client onto the correct path if I’m not qualified in a specific field of work to help them, I’ll be able to refer them to another counsellor who will be more beneficial to their needs of

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

CBT has been proven to be effective for treating several different mental health conditions, helping individuals manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave. It was pioneered by a man named Aaron Beck in the 1960’s and the aim of CBT is to focus on the concept that a person’s thoughts, physical sensations, actions and feelings are interconnected, which causes the individual to develop and feed on negative thoughts, trapping them in a vicious circle.

The cognitive triad of negative core beliefs.

Negative Views About the World

Negative Views About the Future

Negative Views About Oneself.


Lorna Stephenson

This specific therapy helps the client deal with overwhelming problems and breaking the problem down into smaller parts, helping them see things in a more positive way. Unlike other specific therapies such as, the Psychodynamic approach which helps delve into memories of the past, this technique focuses on the present. The aim of this approach is to help a client deal with current problems and attempt to understand their thought process. This therapy is more structured than the psychodynamic approach and doesn’t often need too many sessions to help an individual identify the dysfunctional patterns which have occurred. CBT works well with clients who are diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depressive disorders. This approach can treat phobias, fears, post traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety and other conditions. (Burns 18)

Existential Therapy

Existential therapy was developed by two main figures known as Viktor Frankl and Rollo May. They developed this technique to focus on and helps an individual to feel a sense of freedom and responsibility for our choices. The aim of this model is to place the client seen as a ‘whole’ and allow a client to find meaning of their life and find the purpose of the meaning. Existential therapy takes a holistic view, seeing the individual as a wider world. It will explore the distress of an individual and explore all the aspects of the matter, including the past, present and future. (Deurzen, no date) it requires some urgency and attention in the here and now of the individual’s life.

Existential therapy shares many similarities with the humanistic approach and with this approach and aims to confront the individual’s negative internal thoughts rather than external forces. Helping one show love, creativity and free will, will guide that individual towards transformation and life enhancing experiences. Its all motivated on the four dimensions of existence.

Dimensions of human existence.










Trainees and experienced practitioners need to be very cautious when attempting to incorporate ideas from other forms of therapy into their practice for without a clear philosophical justification there is likely to be confusion for the counsellor and client alike. (Langdridge, 2012)

The differences between CBT and person-centred therapy is that CBT is taught, and goal orientated. It helps deal with negative thoughts therefore, its duty is to alter the existing cognitive pattern to help move on from emotional and behavioural issues. Where as person centred assumes that individuals are naturally inclined towards growth and that they are capable of being able to understand their own behaviours and attitudes, given the correct support.

They are both similar as they each deal with the conscious mind, focus on the here and now paying attention to current problems the client may have. Each of these approaches also help to facilitate healthy coping mechanisms who may be experiencing psychological pain in their life.

The difference between Existential therapy and person-centred therapy, is that this approach focuses on the four key concepts, which are, self-actualisation, positive regard, congruence and empathy. Each of these are important if a counsellor was to use the person-centred approach as they allow the client to feel as an equal and gives them the opportunity to develop positivity within themselves. Understanding the client’s thoughts as well as feelings, the counsellor is understanding the client and giving them a sense or worth, showing them that the clients point of view is important and accepted. Whereas, Existential therapy aims to help the client but focuses more on exploring their values, according to Mulhauser, G (2010) both therapy techniques are similar as the counsellor must try and not impose their own bias or judgements during therapy or on the client, this helps the client figure out and expand on their own perspective.

It is very easy to misunderstand the concepts of each approach as they are all similar in certain ways. I have developed a better understanding of what each approach entails, and will further gain knowledge throughout this course, helping me successfully use these approaches during practical work in a more professional manner.

(2.2)        Justify why it is important to have an in-depth understanding of a therapeutic model before using its methods and techniques

It is important to understand a therapeutic model before using its methods and techniques for several reasons, one being that not every model is useful to everyone. Understanding the techniques of the model potentially being used, would help the counsellor decide which type of therapy to use with the individual client depending on their cultural beliefs or preferences or even based on knowledge of which model would particularly be beneficial for that client. A counsellor must ensure that they do not become emotionally involved with the client and maintain the effectiveness of counselling skills to reduce confusion and help the client make effective decisions which will lead them to positive Changes in their attitude and/or behaviour.

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If a counsellor was to use person centred skills, without the use and understanding of congruence, empathy and positive regard, it would be highly difficult for the counsellor to be able to build trust with the client, therefore, the client will refuse to express how they truly feel. Where as, if a counsellor was to use the gestalt technique and showed lack of ability to see the client, focusing on the here and now and help the client become aware of their situation, then the client would struggle to move on from the past and they would have difficulty to thinking positive about today.

The reason for counselling is the help individuals who have unsolved issues and would like closure, seeking help from a counsellor could help clients express suppressed thoughts and feelings, enabling them to successfully move on from specific situations which they may be struggling to deal with. If a counsellor was unclear of the methods and techniques used for each model, then the client will be affected in a way of not being able to feel a sense of achievement and find the ability to make positive changes in life.




  • Carl Rogers. Rogers, C. (1959). A Theory of Therapy, Personality and Interpersonal Relationships as Developed in the Client-centered Framework. In (ed.) S. Koch, Psychology: A Study of a Science. Vol. 3: Formulations of the Person and the Social Context. New York: McGraw Hill.
  • C. H. Patterson, (1985) The Therapeutic Relationship, Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole
  • Darren Langridge, Langdridge, D. (2012) Existential Counselling and Psychotherapy. SAGE
  • Deurzen, E. V. Arnold-Baker, C. (2018) Existential therapy: Distinctive Features Psychotherapy and Counselling Distinctive Features, Routledge
  • Gerard Egan, Egan, G (1998) The skilled helper: A problem management approach to helping, Sixth edition. Brooks/Cole Pub co
  • John Mcleod, Mcleod, J (2013) First Published (1993) An Introduction to Counselling, New York.
  • Kirk J. Schneider, Orah T. Krug. (2017) Existential-humanistic Therapy: Theories of Psychotherapy series. Second edition. American Psychological Association.
  • Petruska Clarkson, Clarkson, P (1989) London, Gestalt counselling in action, Second edition



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