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Since its introduction in the 1940s, "Person Centered Theory" in counseling and therapy has been utilized in many more current therapeutic practices. Generally speaking, Person Centered Theory takes the focus off the counselor (listening, making decisions, and prescribing behavioral change) and puts it back on the client. In this way, the client is trusted as someone who is both competent and independent. He is considered to be someone who can bring about his own change.
The most important approach to helping in Person Centered Theory is to build a personal relationship with the client. This is also a practice in "Reality Therapy" (a more modern idea that utilizes many ideas of Person Centered Therapy). The client must know the counselor trusts him to make decisions that lead him toward positive change and growth. He must also, in turn, trust the therapist to listen to, encourage, and support him.
In the process of building a personal relationship (and therefore trust) with the client, the next approach in Person Centered Therapy is to create a safe environment in which the client can practice making changes. This means the counselor must provide acceptance and care for the client. The client, in this approach, is allowed to make mistakes and process through them, rather than be told exactly what to do.
Two essential elements for Person Centered Therapy to be effective are time and communication. More recently, this therapy has been utilized in group therapy situations. Though each client may be working toward a different goal, as they process through the behavioral changes necessary in achieving that goal, they can receive feedback, encouragement, and support from others doing the same thing.
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