Person centered counselling (or client centered therapy) was developed by the psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s. It is from the humanistic school of psychotherapies, with the underlying assumption that people have an immense capacity to understand themselves and solve their own problems, given the right conditions for change. The therapist’s role is to provide the optimal conditions for healing, which includes warmth, respect, transparency, empathetic understanding, and unconditional positive regard.
The therapeutic relationship is one of genuineness and equality. Clients are free to express feelings and have experiences without judgement. Much like the existentialist philosophy, the person-centered attitude is one of a “shared journey through life” where each can express their genuine humanness in an egalitarian way.
Given these conditions (like the optimal conditions for a seedling to grow into a flower) clients are able to become more accepting of themselves, increase their feeling of worth and make effective therapeutic changes.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a more directive, short-term model of counselling that is effective for treating issues such as anxiety, depression, phobias, eating disorders, stress management, and substance abuse.
The assumption behind this approach is that our psychological distress is caused by an irrational thought process and belief system, and that by changing our thoughts and behaviours, the resulting negative emotion will subside. Focus is on the present, sessions are usually structured and time-limited and the relationship is collaborative.
Teaching tools include homework, challenging irrational thoughts, trying new behaviours, learning new coping skills and stress inoculation training. The CBT approach has been heavily favoured in recent times due to the health-care trend of evidence-based treatment.
Art therapy is a powerful tool that can be used for expressing emotional pain or revealing oneself when verbalizing feels difficult or dangerous. It is not about being good at art, although it can stimulate creativity and a feeling of playfulness.
One of the benefits is it can allow for immediacy into a client’s inner world in a way that talk therapy may not initially be able to do. It can enable clients to feel less helpless, and gain a tool for active engagement in therapy. The client and therapist can explore the possible symbolic interpretations of the artwork, leading to even greater insight and a chance for clients to appreciate themselves more fully.
Art therapy is an effective tool to help clients cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, increase cognitive abilities and improve interpersonal relationships. Its earliest form stems from psychoanalysis, although art therapy has since changed to include many other modern applications.