Last month was pretty hectic, and I haven’t had time to write a long blog post, so I thought I would write something brief to reflect some of my recent experiences of being person centred in my personal and professional life.
Person centred therapy is mostly associated with Carl Rogers. The aim of working in this way is to keep aligning yourself to your clients way of thinking, feeling, valuing, meaning making and any other aspect of their personality. This seems to mean two important things to me at the moment.
1 – The person is unique, and so is everyone else. You can understand, broadly and specifically what it means to be a Homo sapiens by studying history, biographies, psychology, diaries, philosophy, meditation, anthropology, art, etc. But none of those things will tell you the universally unique patterning of a person’s authentic experience of themselves in the moments that you spend together, in therapy or otherwise.
2 – To be with the person’s experience, your own personality must take a back seat. This is not to say it must disappear, because it is highly unlikely that it will, but it mustn’t get in the way. There are times when you may disagree with what someone is telling you, but if you want to help them, then it is usually best to put your own beliefs aside and to carry on gently exploring their experience.
The fascinating thing about this approach is how quickly it can highlight what we don’t usually notice about our own experience. When I put myself aside for a client I am amazed by how bullishly it can jump back in when it disagrees with a statement. Or how it starts to hum with resonance. When I put myself aside for a client with respect and compassion, then their experience is magnified. They can know their experience in a way they haven’t before, all the better for being witnessed in a caring and encouraging way. And this is a fantastic gateway to full ownership of your personal growth.
Person centred therapy holds that if an organism is given the right conditions then it will make healthy growth. I have found that my Buddhist practice is my gateway to exercising these important relational qualities that promote a healthy personality. It offers a good training ground in acceptance of whatever is happening with an attitude of compassion and friendliness.
I hope that you have taken something useful from this month’s hurried, word salad. If I wanted people to get anything from this then it would be to understand a little better the often oblique feeling, non-obvious nature of counselling. And that people almost never get to be understood in this way by another, or even themselves.
There is a lot of amazing material on Youtube about Carl Rogers, including some videos of him working with clients. It’s worth a look if you are considering therapy, to see what most of us are aspiring to.
I wish you all happiness in what you are doing. Will.