Person-Centered Approach: The theory behind my practice

I practice using the Person-Centered Approach that was originated by Carl Rogers, arguably the most influential American mental health practitioner of the 20th Century. The Person-Centered Approach can be understood as a branch of the Humanistic School of Psychology. The Humanistic School of Psychology is also known as the 3rd force, meaning it grew out of a reaction to the opposing schools of psychoanalysis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In contrast to Psychoanalysis, which attempts to understand and work with unconscious motives, and Behaviorism, which attempts to generate change through learned behavior, Humanistic Psychology attempts to help individuals increase their innate healing capacities and thereby allow self-directed growth to occur.

We, humanistic practitioners, believe in something called the "actualizing tendency". The actualizing tendency can be understood as the innate force within all living things that strives towards growth. In other words, if you are alive, you are growing. Unlike the psychoanalysts, your growth does not need to be interpreted and, unlike the behaviorists, your growth does not need to be directed. What we, humanists, believe is that our job is to aid in the process of strengthening this innate force.

The natural growth process of the individual is promoted when the therapist can embody certain attitudinal qualities: the therapist strives to be congruent and experiences unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding toward the client. In other words, the therapist embody the PCA "core conditions."

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