The Person-Centred Approach
The Person-Centred Approach was developed by the American Psychologist, Dr Carl Rogers. It takes an optimistic view of human nature and is a growth, rather than a deficit, model. Most approaches to counselling and human emotional distress, assume that the cause of the difficulty is a deficit in the client (wrong thinking, CBT), powerful and destructive subconscious forces (Psychodynamic/psychoanalytical or a chemical misbalance (Psychiatry) are examples). In contrast, a growth model assumes that people have within themselves vast resources for self-understanding and for altering their self-concepts, underlying attitudes, and self-directing behaviour. The task of the counsellor is to facilitate this growth which is achieved by offering a non-judgemental, valuing environment where a client can truly be themselves. The therapist becomes collaborative, rather than oppositional, freeing the client to stop defending their maladaptive position and to grow. This approach has an impressive history, with more than 70 years of evidence-based research confirming its effectiveness.
Areas of Specialism: Autism and Couples
Working with couples and relationship issues form an essential part of my work. I also train experienced counsellors to work with couples and relationship issues. (including LGBT).
Growing out of my couple's work has been my increasing understanding of the effect of Autism on relationships, and this has become increasingly important in my work for the last decade. It is disproportionately present in the couples I see. Often they are unaware of autistic traits while others secretly suspect them.
In addition to couples, and autism my caseload currently includes a wide range of presenting problems, including depression, stress and bereavement, sexual and physical abuse.
I started counselling couples right from the beginning of my counselling career, I have always found this work fascinating, and this strong interest continues to this day. About 15 years ago I started to suspect that the person-centred approach had something unique to offer couples counselling. Just as is the case with individual clients, a non-confrontational, non-judgemental approach to couples lets them start to hear and respect one another. My entire focus with couples is not to judge them, but to support them in their communication with one another.
Even if they separate, which does happen, but not often, they are likely to need to have an ongoing relationship for their children as holidays, Christmas, graduation, marriage and grandchildren appear.
Autism (Aspergers Syndrome)
My other area of knowledge and high interest is Autism (also known as Aspergers Syndrome until recently). This may be an individual client, one of a couple, or both in a couple. For a couple, this can cause them additional problems, and it is vital that their couples counsellor has a good knowledge of the Autistic Spectrum. We call the person with Autistic Traits “A.S.” and those with no, or very few, traits, “N.T.” (Neuro-typical). If I see a couple, I help them to understand one another. If I’m seeing an individual with AS traits, I help them to understand and communicate with the N.T. world.
I am not a Psychologist and so am not qualified to diagnose Autism. I am, however, very experienced at working with AS clients.