3 Foundation blocks of the person-centred approach
January 2017 Newsletter from La Jolla Program
Welcome to our first Newsletter for 2017.
These extracts are taken from an article by Jerold D. Bozarth.
There are three basic premises of the person-centred approach that identify it as a therapeutic paradigm different from other therapy and growth activating approaches.
These underlying premises are:
1. That the actualising tendency and the formative tendency are the foundation blocks of the person-centred approach and combined is the only motivating force.
2. That the individual is always his own best expert and authority on his life and
3. That the only role of the therapist is that of embodying and communicating certain attitudinal qualities. That is, the intent of the therapist is to be who he is while embodying the attitudinal qualities in order to promote the clients actualising processes.
Rogers was explicit about the foundation of the approach in many of his writings. For example, Rogers(1986) succinctly states:
"The person-centred approach, then, is primarily a way of being which finds its expression in attitudes and behaviour that create a growth promoting climate. It is a basic philosophy rather than a technique or method. When this philosophy is lived, it helps the person to expand the development of his own capacities. When it is lived, it also stimulates others. It empowers the individual, and when this personal power is sensed, experiences show that it tends to be used for personal and social transformation."
The essence of the person-centred philosophy in leadership includes giving autonomy to persons in groups, freeing them to "do their thing" ( i.e, expressing their own ideas and feelings as one aspect of the group data),facilitating learning, stimulating independence in thought and action, accepting the "unacceptable " innovative creations that emerge, offering feedback and accepting it, encouraging and relying on self-evaluation, and finding reward in the development and achievement of others.
In short, trust in the natural growth process of humans is the sine qua non of the approach. The basic premise is an operational premise.
Rogers’ (1978) dedication to the basic premise of the actualising tendency of individuals and formative tendency of the universe is reflected in his comments when he stated, "The one thing that probably remains unchanged for me is trust in the fact that there is a group wisdom. I can really trust the group and trust the process.” He elaborated further upon the importance of the principles of the person-centred approach while working with groups:
"That's one of the duties of learning to be truly empathic. You may not have known that this would occur- or that would crop up- but your whole mind-set is a readiness to understand, to try to grasp what it is that has meaning for the person at this point and that gets across to the group- the desire to understand...The whole aim is to relinquish any attempt to control the outcome, to control the direction, to control the mood."
Rogers' summarisation is also appropriate here. He said:
"I'm asking myself, how can I be ready for the unexpected? Can I really be open? Can I really be open to any clue that might open up doors of new understanding? That's the way to approach a group also."
Bozarth J.D (1988) The Person-Centred Large Community Group.
Rogers C.R (1970) On Encounter Groups.api
Rogers C.R (1986) A client-centred, person-centred approach to therapy. In J.L Kutash &A.Wolf Eds, A Psychotherapist's Casebook.