What a Counsellor and Psychotherapist have to learn…?

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Yes, that’s the question. Counsellors and psychotherapists have to learn to be good enough to help others who suffer from mental health and personal dilemmas.

The first is personal development and professional integrations. Including personal counselling sessions and then clients work to gather an experience.

Yes, the counsellor students have to attend at least fifty counselling sessions as well. That is logically and ethically an issue before we start to see the clients. And then supervision during the practice.

“Meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meanings we give to situations.”

Alfred Adler

However, I start from” Introduction to Humanistic and Existentialism” where approaches from ancient times through ancient Greece and Rome, we reached the 19th century, after all in 1964, at Old Saybrook conference was establish the new movement in humanistic psychotherapy. Individuals like Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Rollo May, participated in the conference. Humanistic and existential approaches originated in the 19th century after psychoanalytic school of Fraud and behaviourist approaches, including Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) who was one of the first people who are responsible for creating behaviourism psychology.

Humanistic and Existential approaches are lying close to each other. Both respect clients’ beliefs and their individualism, personal responsibility and ability for their own choice to change. These approaches are created by the third force psychotherapists, who take responsibility to develop a new line in the field.

  • Gestalt Therapy by Fritz Perls (1893-1970),
  • Client-Centred Therapy also naming person-centred Therapy (PCT), by Carl Rogers (1902-1987).
  • Existential Therapy with Irvin D. Yalom(1931).
  • Logotherapy with Victor Frankl(1905-1997).

On one side we meet non-directive theory of Person-centred Therapy with Carl Rogers who did the significant movement in humanistic psychotherapy with others important persons like Abraham Maslow with his “Hierarchy of Needs” and on another side, we have more phenomenological approaches like; Existentialism where we met Irvin D. Yalom, with Existential Psychotherapy. Not excluded a Rollo May, (1909-1994) who is an author of the prestige book “Love and Will”. Victor Frankl with Logotherapy and his famous bestseller “Mean Search of Meaning”. This particular book I read in both Polish and English. Very good writing, especially that is not from the eastern European point of view and is written by the psychiatrist who makes a great work in the meaning of life from a psychological point of view.

A good part of humanistic approaches to learn from Carl Rogers is the essence of personal development, the “Self” where he believes that the person changes during the individual’s life and create own personality during human existence. This is created by his experiences of self-concept (self – image, self – worth or self-esteem, and ideal self).

Self image.

Since the self-image is that how we see own self, for instance, we make an opinion about own body image or perceive own person as wise or a stupid because that have influence from our parents and another member of family, friends and social media and other factors in the human environment. The self-image could be very important for another factor which is self-esteem and self-worth where we find what we think about our own self, and this believing system aroused and formed in our own childhood and could stay the same till today. Next aspect of the Rogerian school is the ideal self where we imagine who we would like to be, according to our own ambitions and aims in our own life. The ideal self is not persistent, the ideal self-consistently changes and it depends on the circumstance in life. And could vary from person to person.

Self Concept.

The emotional state as a core of self-concept is individual and has its own personal meaning. It possibly happened for the self, is not what we want to see or what others see of ourselves, maybe different in perceiving others. Johari Window could be a good example for a deeper examination of ourselves how others perceive us and to compare how we see ourselves. According to Person-Centred Therapy (PCT), Rogerian believes that the individual and unique experience of humans let him be the human, and be an expert on his own life with his perception. When two people observe the same pigeon they have two different experiences and two different feelings.

Considering growth and personal development we cannot forget about self-awareness where we have to ask ourselves who I am and explore the power of the big “Why”? and “What IF”?

An important value in the learning process has a main core condition like empathy where we learn how to understand others more deeply and adequately. Unconditional positive regard was to behave in the therapeutic process and is not dependent on the client’s personality or behaviour. As a growth person, we accept others unconditionally without bias and prejudice. Sound not easy. Is it not?

For instance, I will still offer help, no matter if someone is homeless or suffers from an addictive personality.

A typical example of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) is where the parents like the kids without any boundaries, fully and acceptable in any condition. That means to love the child unconditionally. However, the conditional love is more or less when the children are calm and nice for the parents or guardian. For instance ” if you clean your room I will love you” 

The same therapist provides UPR for all clients. Then the congruence when we can achieve self-awareness and the helping counsellor show evidence of high-quality openness and authentic person.

Some of the techniques you can watch demonstrate a session Person-Centred Therapy (PCT) by Carl Rogers with Gloria. on You Tube

She showed one of the significant pieces of evidence of how we can develop during psychotherapy sessions using only one kind of therapy.

“I feel more comfortable the way you are talking to me in a low voice and I don’t feel you will be so harsh on me”


Personal development and growth during the journey of therapeutic approaches in humanistic and existentialism, as a person I have to experience and evaluate my own self-awareness, find the locus of evaluation and constantly improve actualizing tendency to remember the condition of the worth and organismic process during human life.

A developing person has to remember Rogers’ rationale where we know that we exist in the hierarchy of human needs and our growth by our own experience and awareness of control own self. Constantly looking and improving meaning and sense in life. Foster a good working relationship with self and others.

The humanistic school believes that, when the therapist provides proper therapeutic process, the client can heal himself in many issues without medication.

Personal growth lets us be better for our own self, more truly and more understanding and more aware, be more responsible as a person who has his own choice, be here and now, be at present.

Another value in human development is finding the sense in life according to existentialism approaches and the authors like Victor Frankl who experience in his life during he has to stay in Nazi camps during the WII. “Hi, ask his comrade and his self what is the meaning of life, what is the purpose and aim.” Even though the experience was very bad at that time because of losing his family he does not lose the sense of the life he knows by reflection, by the self-determination and the uniqueness of the human.

Is that what we have to find in existentialism by many authors from the philosophical point of view Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Sartre or Buber to more phenome logical and close in time like Rollo May, Irvin Yalom, James Bugental. All that will help in development by humanistic approaches is that any human is unique and individual, we are born alone and will die alone. We come to the world for our own reason and own purpose for living, we try to live here and now.

Occasionally we make mistakes as all we do, we are all human and all of us are imperfect. For sure. And that is ok.

” An assumption unusual in psychology today is that the subjective human being has an important basic value; that no matter how he may be labelled and evaluated he is a human person first of all, and most deeply. “

Carl Rogers, 1962

Do you find this article interesting? What is your meaning of life?

Published by Marcin Bogucki

Counselling & Psychotherapy for both English and Polish speakers.

7 thoughts on “What a Counsellor and Psychotherapist have to learn…?

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