People Make Simple Mistakes in Judgment

People make simple mistakes in judgment all the time. They also make choices that appear to be right to them but that are ineffective because they are made to match the perceived world of others rather than an individual's own best judgment. People are attempting to act in response to how they believe others would have them act (conditions of worth) rather than trusting their own positive, growth-oriented nature and their tendency to actualize.

Counselors who demonstrate faith in the whole person, rather than denigrating clients for mistakes of behavior, allow clients the freedom to explore their inner world without fear of rejection. Lacking such unconditional positive regard, clients may try to do what they believe the counselor wants in order to achieve a better life. Such decisions only increase clients' beliefs that they cannot make their own effective choices and must instead look to others for what is best to do or not do. They may find some more socially acceptable ways of behaving in this model, but they will not have gained confidence to consistently implement them or in their own ability to seek more changes as the need arises.

Place Confidence in the Client

Person-centered counselors place tremendous confidence in clients even knowing that they will make mistakes in judgment along the way. This confidence is based on the belief that people are innately good and continually seeking a fully functioning experience in the world even as they make mistakes. People's tendency to actualize personal potential in positive ways is the force that the person-centered practitioner recognizes and seeks to free from self-induced constraints.

The repeat history of the abusive spouse example makes trusting so difficult that often the courts need to step in to protect others. That, however, is the work of the courts and not the counselor, whose person-centered task is to believe in this person's desire to do the right thing even though he is currently unable to perceive what that is or how to do it. This contrasts with other views of human nature that do not allow the practitioner to trust, because client difficulties are seen as weaknesses or deficiencies standing in the way of personal progress unless the counselor corrects them. Person-centered clients are treated as effective human beings who are able to grow and succeed regardless of the nature of their difficulties.

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