During the 1950’s Carl Rogers developed three core conditions. These conditions continued to be developed by Rogers in the intervening years until his death in 1987. The aim of this essay will demonstrate an understanding of each condition and briefly discuss how they are applied in practice. The role of empathy will be reflected on and critically appraised. Carl Rogers developed three core conditions, Emapthy, Congruence (realness) and Unconditional Positive Regard. These conditions are at the core of person centred counselling.The effectiveness of these conditions are based upon the counsellors skill, knowledge and application in practice, it is not something that can be turned “on and off”, but a way of being .
To avoid unconditional positive regard, the counsellor has to act in a certain way when working with clients, demonstrating certain feeling for all humanity and have an awareness to always work within the conditions even during circumstances where there maybe interpersonal difficulties .
Empathy is a process, not just something a counsellor will do.
It involves sensing and perceiving how the client is feeling. It involves appropriate use of touch such as a hand on the clients shoulder, tone and pitch of the voice and in some instances it can be demonstrated through crying at times when the client does but equally having an awareness of boundaries within the session, meaning, the client not feeling that they are “coununselling” you. To demonstrate empathy the counsellor must also be aware of their own journey.
In relation to recording this skill maybe at times to demonstrate.
Congruence, the next core condition was reffered to by Roger’s as the most important element as he beleived “it is the realness of the therapist in the relationship which is the most important element” (Mearns. D & Thorn. B, 2007, pg . 95). To be congruent, is to be natural and oneself. What works for M. a. (2000). Person-centred therapy today. London: Sage Publications. one therapist may not necessarily work for another. It is about being the same with all people, and not pretending to be something that they are not.
The final core condition is unconditional positive regard. This maybe perceieved as the most difficult condition to grasp. It is not concerned with liking the client or agreeing with how they feel, but more about the attitude of the counsellor. The counsellor who has unconditioanl positive regard, is one who has respect for humanity and their client alike, regardless of what they have to say and the way they live their life. It is said in Mearns and Thorns, Person – Centred Counselling in Action, “the attitude manifests itself in the counsellors consistant acceptance of and enduring warmth towards her client”. It explains, that it maybe easier for a counsellor to get along with the hard working client, but can be challenging when working with the client who has a high level of self loathing and disgust for themselves.
As a counselling skills user, reflecting on my practice I find applying the core condition of empathy can be quite challenging concept to grasp. This is due to the fact that it takes a counsellor to be extremely self aware to lay aside their own thoughts and feelings to tap into the emotions of their clients. Because empathy stems from an understanding of what the client is going through, it may be difficult in some situations for the counsellor to really be on the receiving frequency that the client is on. It may be a bit of a struggle for the counsellor to understand and really equate empathy, because it is a process, not a skill that can be learned.
Mearns.D and Thorn.B(2000). Person-centred therapy today. London: Sage Publications.