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Person-Centered Counseling

The counselor plays a significant role in person-centered counseling.  Normally, a counselor is thought of as a leader, goal setter, and someone who is there to help a person achieve their goals.   In person-centered counseling however, the counselor typically takes a different approach.  The approach is holistic which is not out of the ordinary yet, in person-centered counseling the counselor tends to follow the client’s needs.  The idea is for the counselor to allow the client to reflect on their emotional state while the counselor observes the client’s actions.

The goal setting eventually comes as the counselor and client work through therapy but there isn’t a specific guideline or timeline in which goals have to be established.   The goals will emerge as the client reflects on their life with the counselor asking questions that mostly opens dialogue and allows them to think from within.  The personality of a counselor will depend on whether or not this approach is successful because patience is an absolute must.

During person-centered therapy, the counselor tends to hold off on diagnosis as they do not make use of the DSM-V.   Person-centered therapy also does not make use of very many tests as this approach does not capture the true meaning of the process through scores.  If they do make use of psychological tests they are very careful of which ones to use and when they get the results they do not focus on the test scores themselves but rather what the answers to the test mean to the client.

The counselor will typically choose methods that work for the client which include, “active and passive listening, accurate reflection of thoughts and feelings, clarification, summarization, confrontation, and general or open-ended leads.” (Gladding, 68)  These methods allow the counselor to become more aware of the client’s thoughts and emotions and more conscious of the relationship that is being established between the counselor and the client.


Person-centered counseling lets the patient focus on themselves on their own free will.  Their outcome is determined by their current and future actions rather than the past and the process in therapy is non-directive.  The relationship between the therapist or counselor and the patient is empathetic and the professional is always showing the good in the moment with unconditional support.

Counselors practicing this theory don’t immediately establish goals.  Instead they focus on their clients as individuals and help them learn how to deal with their problems.   Counselors consider this their main goal or priority when using this method.   Ultimately, guiding their clients to confidence in dealing with their problems is reflected as a measurement of success.

Person-centered counseling is a reflection of how a client can overcome their bad situations that are negatively affecting their lives and what they do to handle these problems.   This process takes time so the counselor’s personal goal should be to establish a therapeutic relationship that includes warmth, empathy, and compassion.  This takes a lot of patience and it’s easy for a normal person to get frustrated when they don’t see immediate results.  This is one of the reasons that specific goals are not set in a timeline; to eliminate some of that frustration.  The result of this counseling comes with time and is measured slowly by how the client develops on the inside, as a person.

I personally like this approach as I am clearly learning the benefits.  However, I would fear if I personally used this approach I might lack the personal satisfaction of seeing goals that are met by clients.  However, it seems when working with chemically dependent individuals, many would be very appreciative of this theory as the relationship wouldn’t seemed forced or repetitive.

Person-centered therapy is very useful in regards to chemical dependency because it focuses on the individual’s perspective on how it relates to reality.  This theory helps people feel the innerness of the moment as opposed to concentrating outside societal norms.  It also takes into consideration the client’s perception of how they perceive themselves and that all people are capable of assuming responsibility for their own actions and that is how this theory is implemented.

Self-Concept is defined as “the idea or mental image one has of oneself and one’s strengths, weaknesses, status, etc,; self-image.” (  Person-centered counseling revolves around a person’s self-concept in that it focuses only on the client’s present situation and not what caused the client to get to where they are.   The environment and the person are directly connected and this is where the two become intertwined by looking at current interactions and reality.  When working directly with clients, the counselor who uses this theory doesn’t necessarily use a technique so to speak.  The sessions are client lead in which the counselor directs the self-exploration of the client.  The bond and connection must be made between the counselor and client for this to be effective because this allows the client to explore themselves in a manner that that they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable doing otherwise.  Often times, when a person is unsure of how their experiences connect with themselves, they can create a disconnection which can result in mixed emotions including chaos and pain.

While person-centered therapy has been implemented successfully and has reported great outcomes, there are downsides that may occur.  Oftentimes, the patient drags out counseling sessions because it’s on their terms which could lack specific goals or measurements.    It’s also hard for a counselor to implement this theory when there are deeper issues that must be addressed first and the only way to dig deeper into those issues is for the counselor to drive the sessions.  With this theory, the client is leading so those feeling often become suppressed which could hinder the success of the outcome.   More times than not however, this is a great theory to use when counseling.