Your Guide to Person Centred Therapy in London
Person Centred Therapy (PCT), also known as Client Centred Therapy or Rogerian therapy, is is an approach to therapy which puts you in the driving seat of your healing journey. In PCT, also known as person-centred counselling, you’re encouraged to find your own solutions, rather than rely on someone to tell you how things should be done.
PCT can help you gain more self-confidence, and truly be yourself, so you can relate to others from a place of authenticity. It can have a strong impact on the quality of your relationships as you begin to trust your own thoughts and feelings and set your own boundaries.
Person Centred Therapy can be used in combination with other types of therapy, to treat anxiety, social anxiety and depression, as well as childhood trauma and recovering from narcissistic abuse. Person centred psychotherapy can also be a powerful and transformative tool for personal growth and personal development.
What is Person Centred Therapy?
Person Centred Therapy is a humanistic approach to therapy, where client and person centred counsellor work in collaboration. There are three core values that person centred therapists aim to reflect during the therapy:
1. Authenticity and Congruence
The therapist interacts with you as their authentic selves – there’s no façade, or hiding behind a polished air of educated accomplishment. There’s two real people in the room, developing a transparent and ‘real’ relationship within a safe space.
The therapist isn’t a passive listener, nor director of the therapy – they engage with you as themselves. This creates an environment where you feel genuinely seen and heard for who you are. This honest interaction between two people helps to develop a strong bond of trust, as the client leads the therapy towards deep and meaningful exploration.
2. Unconditional Positive Regard
The therapist regards the client with what they call ‘unconditional positive regard’. This means they aim to totally accept you as you are, whoever you are, and whatever you bring to the therapy.
It means the therapy takes place within a truly non-judgmental space, where the therapist allows themselves to care about the client without expecting anything in return. This atmosphere promotes self acceptance, and can help you feel valued and safe to openly communicate what ever’s on your mind.
3. Empathetic Understanding
A person centred therapist will attempt to stand in the client’s shoes in order to deeply understand their internal world. They offer person centred counselling with genuine empathy, and feel their way into what you’re going through. Being fully understood helps you to feel validated and acknowledged, and can foster good mental health as you deepen your connection with your therapist.
The roots of Person Centred Therapy
In the 1940s and 1950s, the American psychologist, Carl Rogers and his colleagues, revolutionised the world of psychotherapy. They were moving away from the therapies of the time – psychoanalysis and behaviourism, and developing new theories through empirical observation and research.
Their mission was simple – to understand the process of therapy and determine what leads to positive change. They weren’t out to proclaim an ultimate way of doing therapy, instead developing a set of tools and hypotheses which could continually evolve and adapt.
Carl Rogers believed that every human being is unique, with their own world view which must be respected in individual therapy. In PCT, the views, intuitions and opinions of the client are trusted and become a driving force in the therapy.
You’re a client – not a patient
Carl Rogers was quite deliberate when he used the term ‘client’ instead of ‘patient’. And it’s a choice which reflects the essence of Person Centred Therapy. As a client you’re not viewed as a ‘sick’ individual in need of a cure from an expert. You’re seen as an equal partner, collaborating in your therapeutic journey.
This shift in perspective means the power remains in your hands, leaving you in control of what you want to explore, and where you want to go in the therapy. The collaborative dialogue, when combined with empathetic understanding creates a nurturing environment, ripe for exploration and self-discovery.
“When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mould you, it feels damn good…”Carl Rogers
The Dance between Therapist and Client
Person-centered therapy is a style of talking therapy – you’ll be doing most of the talking as the therapist actively listens. Sometimes they’ll reflect what you’ve said back to them, to make sure that they understand properly, and give you a chance to refine what you’re saying.
The therapy is very adaptable, with the therapist subtly changing position, depending on what they feel is required at the time. At one time they might listen quietly, tuning in to your feelings and thoughts, to get a sense of your perspective.
But at other times they might gently introduce new material, and present alternative ways of seeing things. It’s a highly dynamic approach, where the therapist remains attuned to your evolving needs. Whatever person centred approach the therapist is taking, there’s always a deep respect for your autonomy.
Person Centred Therapy and Creative Expression
There’s a strong tradition of integrating artistic exploration within person centred therapy. By playfully engaging with drawing, music, poetry, journaling, and even dancing, it’s possible to bypass the thinking mind and access emotions from a new angle.
The art you make is not about great performances, or producing beautiful paintings – it’s about expressing yourself from deep within. There’s no judgement on artistic quality at all, as its the process of expression which brings about the healing. It’s a method championed by Carl Rogers’ daughter, Natalie Rogers, who calls it Person-Centred Expressive Arts Therapy.
The journey towards congruence
When looking at the theories underpinning Person Centred Therapy, it can sometimes be described as the client’s journey towards achieving ‘congruence’. But what does that actually mean?
Carl Rogers theorised that our wellbeing and activation of our full potential requires the alignment of three aspects: self-worth, self-image, and your ideal self. If these elements are out of sync, we’re said to be in a state of incongruence.
With the help of a therapist, you can begin to bridge the gap between how you perceive yourself and how you are in reality. Although the therapist will be trained in PCT, they won’t be providing you with all the answers. Their role is to guide, listen, and facilitate, while you actively participate in their own therapeutic journey.
Recognising your potential
A significant aspect of Person-Centred Therapy (PCT) is its unwavering faith in the client’s potential. Unlike some of the more traditional therapy models where the therapist is seen as the expert, PCT empowers you, and encourages you to take the reins of your therapeutic journey.
Ultimately, only you hold the keys to unlock your mental well-being and discover your inner capacities and creativity. This approach fosters a genuine self-awareness that can form the foundation of your growth and healing.
Conclusion – skills for life
The insights you take from Person Centred Therapy can be used in all areas of your life. You’ll be able to continue developing awareness and discovering insights about yourself after the therapy finishes.
As you’re better understood by your therapist, you’ll find that you become better understood by others. Your ability to engage in genuine self-reflection will reflect in the quality of your relationships and achievement of your true potential.
If you’re interested in becoming more self-aware and exploring your inner resources, Person Centred Therapy may be the perfect fit for you. It’s an approach I use with most clients at my private practice in Central London.
Start by booking an initial consultation – there’s nothing to figure out beforehand, you just come as you are, and we can explore how therapy might help you move forward.