Blog: Articles on Psychological Wellbeing, Relationships, Brain Health, Counselling and Neurofeedback
Welcome to the blog of Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback. Articles posted here are written by our clinical staff and relate to services we offer or conditions we address. We hope they will be helpful to you in some way, whether you're considering counselling for yourself or someone else, gathering information on a mental health related issue, or just want to find out more about who we are and what we do.
What to Expect from Your Therapist
Taking the courageous step to see a counsellor, can leave you with many feelings, questions, and desires. Therapy can be challenging and can feel uncomfortable, and even be a painful process. However, the rapport you have with your counsellor will set the tone for your journey toward healing.
In successful therapy, people explore all parts of themselves, perhaps for the first time in their lives. The counsellor’s attitude and responses can encourage continued exploration of their inner world. Carl Rogers, founder of person-centered therapy, outlined the essential ingredients of a successful therapeutic relationship in the terms unconditional positive regard, genuineness, transparency, confidentiality, and empathy. Counselling should provide a person with an open and safe setting that emphasizes self-exploration and change without feeling the need to hold back or conform.
Acceptance Is Essential
Counsellors who have unconditional positive regard for their clients, accept them as they are without reservations or judgments. Unconditional positive regard is imperative in counselling for people to explore parts of themselves that they never have before. In therapy, people can honestly and fully explore emotions, thoughts, experiences, past and present, and desires for the future. Person-centered therapy diverges from earlier models of the therapist as “expert” and moves instead toward a non-directive, empathic approach that empowers and motivates a person towards growth (Raskin et al, 2008).
Counsellors Enhance the Inherent Tendency Towards Growth
Instead of viewing people as inherently flawed, with problematic behaviours and thoughts that require treatment, the person-centered therapy model asserts that each person has the capacity and desire for personal growth and change (Rogers, 1995). Rogers termed this natural human inclination “actualizing tendency”, or self-actualization (Raskin et al, 2008).
In my work as a counsellor, I reflect a person-centered approach to enhance self actualizing tendency by focusing on an individual’s self concept and allowing them to continue to understand what they know about themselves through reflection, and reinterpreting the various experiences which enable them to recover, change and develop.
Acceptance Enhances Self-Awareness
Rogers furthermore stresses that self-awareness emerges as humans grow, and this in turn increases self-esteem. In providing unconditional positive regard I see my role as that of a catalyst towards self-actualization. My belief is that humans are always evolving and growing. Through positive, professional support and space for reflection, people can develop meaningful insights, connections and ultimately accept themselves.
A key characteristic of self actualization is the ability to accept ourselves and others as they are. Those that accept themselves tend to live more freely and can enjoy themselves and others with less guilt or worry.
Counsellors Encourage Problem-Solving Skill Development
Guidance in counselling is not to provide solutions to clients’ problems. It is to equip with tools to find one's own solutions. I am inclined towards this theory both as a counsellor and client because I strongly feel our lives are not for others to govern and person-centered therapy emphasizes that a client is always in the driver seat, navigating life as it unfolds.
The role of a counsellor, then, is not to preach, but to support with empathy and tactful questions, which can assist people in navigating their personal and unique journeys. Rogers believed in people’s innate ability to move toward their destination, at their own pace; and I too, feel that each one of us plays an active role in the development of our personal narratives.
Therapists Inspire Authenticity and Congruence
The counselling relationship is strengthened through genuineness, and authenticity. This includes deep listening, acceptance, understanding, and sharing. These often result in improvements in self-worth, improving congruence between the ideal and actual self and catalyze the journey towards becoming a fully functioning person (Rogers, 1951). The genuine self reflects the true qualities, aptitudes, inclinations, and characteristics of an individual. It is who a person actually is, at the core. It is the way one thinks, feels, looks and behaves.
A necessary start for achieving congruence is to notice our internal state of being. To be able to notice what is inside requires acceptance of whatever one will find there. Self actualization occurs when a person’s ideal self (who they would like to be) is congruent with who they actually are. Therapy can help increase congruence, because a client can be themselves and open up while being understood, respected and validated. We then get to know our true selves when we learn to pay attention to and accept what we are feeling and thinking by being open and vulnerable.
The philosophy that people are essentially good, and that ultimately individuals know what is right for them, is an essential ingredient of person-centred therapy (Rogers, 1951). In order to foster a genuine therapeutic relationship, the counsellor:
* Sets clear boundaries.
* Withholds judgement.
* Allows clients to make their own decisions.
* Really hears what the client is saying.
* Is genuine and transparent.
* Accepts and holds difficult emotions.
* Is aware of personal limitations.
The emphasis is placed on genuineness and on being led by the client.
Roger’s theory channels the notion of a non-judgmental container in therapy as a means to self-actualization. The Rogerian therapist wishes every client who comes into therapy should come to believe that they are capable to discover what is best for themselves. If the counsellor provides an attitude of unconditional positive regard, people will find ways to bloom and flourish in their choice of direction (Rogers, 1995). Establishing a therapeutic relationship is a vital step in the therapy process and trust is key for the relationship to be productive. For successful therapy, clients must trust their counsellor, and feel respected, heard, validated and safe.
To experience Therapy for yourself with Katherine or one of our other Counsellors in Surrey, book an appointment today.
Rogers, C. R. (1995). On becoming a person (2nd ed.). Houghton Mifflin (Trade).
Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered therapy: It’s current practice, implications and theory. London: Constable.
Raskin, Nathaniel J., Rogers, Carl E., and Witty, Marjorie C. (2008). Client-centered therapy. In Raymond J. Corsini and Danny Wedding (Eds.), Current psychotherapies, (7th ed, pp. 141-186). Thomson Higher Education.