After reading the assigned chapters in McCarthy & Archer, write a 3-4 page reaction paper in which you discuss the following:
a. Describe in detail the three core values of person-centered counseling (unconditional positive regard, empathic understanding, and congruence).
b. Assess the value of applying these aspects universally across all treatment approaches. Please explain your position.
c. Psychopathology is the manifestation of mental/behavioral disorders. Does psychological dysfunction exist in the existential therapy model? Please explain your findings.
Core values of person-centered counseling
The first core value of person-centered counseling is unconditional positive regard. This value refers to the ability of a therapist to accept and value other persons as they are, and to appreciate and respect their self-determination rights. This hypothesis was put forward by Carl Rogers. The central concept underlying the hypothesis is that all individuals can potentially alter their opinion on self, their attitudes, and also their self-directed behaviors (Cooper et al., 2013). The attitude of the person-centered counselor greatly determines the outcomes of the interaction with the client. The counselor should uphold the humanity of the client at all times. Under no circumstances should the counselor’s perceptions about the client be altered by any of the client behaviors. Unconditional positive regard is thus an attitude that all person-centered counselors must uphold towards their clients.
The second core value is empathetic understanding. This refers to the ability of the counselor to understand the client’s feelings; not just a mere understanding but being highly attuned and the ability to perceive client’s inner feelings as if they were the counselor’s own feelings (Cooper et al., 2013). In this way, the counselor can be able to respond to client’s concerns in an empathetic manner and at the present time. Empathetic understanding can only be of importance to the counseling session if the counselor perceives the client’s feelings at the present time, or if the counselor has another chance to interact with the client.
The third value relates to congruence. This is regarded as the most important element in person-centered counseling. Congruence refers to the ability of the therapist to remain genuine or open during the interaction with client (Cooper et al., 2013). The counselor should be able to express in an honest way the internal as well as the external experiences. The counselor is authentic and does not shy away from telling the truth. During the interaction with the client, the therapist should be deeply involved in his or her interaction with the client. The counselor should show genuine feelings or interest as opposed to feigned feelings. In line with this, the counselor should be able to draw on his or her own personal experiences which can greatly improve the outcomes of the interaction.
The value of applying the aspects universally
Unconditional positive regard is important when applied universally across all treatment approaches. It helps counselors to be nonjudgmental when dealing with clients. Also when applied across other treatment approaches, the concept can be of great use especially to physicians when treating patients (Thomas & Woods, 2003). The concept enables physicians to be impartial about their patient’s sufferings or ailments. Unconditional positive regard enables therapists or even physicians develop respect towards their clients. Applying the concept also enables therapists and physicians to accept others as unique individuals who have the right to self-determination. As such, it enables individuals accept the beliefs, opinions, and views of others.
Empathetic understanding enables individuals understand others from an inner frame of reference. It enables therapists and physicians to learn about how their clients perceive things or how they think and feel. In that way, they are able to provide the best possible care to them. Applying empathetic understanding enables therapists to respond to clients without personal perceptions, and hence become objective during the session. Congruence enables therapists to communicate to clients the true nature of things. It also enables them to be aware of their true internal experiences. The awareness of the internal experiences can enable the therapist to intentionally avoid harming the client if by saying some truths the client will become offended (Thomas & Woods, 2003).
Psychological dysfunction and existential therapy
Existential therapy holds the view that inner conflicts within individuals are brought about by confrontations that arise from the various dimensions of existence. These dimensions include: the physical dimension, the spiritual dimension, social dimension, and psychological dimension. The inner conflicts are driven by givens of existence which include: meaninglessness, the inevitability of death, existential isolation, and the responsibilities associated with freedom. There exist multiple existential views. As such, there are diverse opinions regarding psychological dysfunction. Nonetheless, the dominant view is that psychological dysfunction does exist in the existential therapy model.
Psychological dysfunction is brought about by one’s inability to adequately handle existential anxieties that arise from the normal course of life and related to the givens of existence. It may also be attributed to the refusal by an individual to tackle the anxieties that result from life’s givens of existence which are meaninglessness, freedom, persistent thoughts on mortality, and isolation. An individual may be unable to deal with normal anxieties in life such as isolation and meaninglessness of life. Such an individual may be said to be in a psychologically dysfunctional state. Yalom (1980) contends that psychiatric problems such as substance abuse, depression, suicidal tendencies, somatization, and others reflect underlying existential issues. Psychopathological manifestations occur to individuals as ineffective ways of coping with existential anxieties. Psychological dysfunction thus exists in the existential therapy model.
Cooper, M., O’Hara, M., Schmid, P. F., & Bohart, A. (2013). The handbook of person—centred psychotherapy and counselling. United Kingdom, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Thomas, D., & Woods, H. (2003). Working with people with learning disabilities: Theory and practice. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic Books.