The person-centered concept of a growth-oriented and competent individual in need of counseling presumes a scenario analogous to the growth of a simple garden bean. The bean seed has within itself all the potential to grow but must be provided with the proper climate for it to achieve its full potential. It will develop as expected if placed in fertile ground where adequate warmth, sun, and water are available. Human hands do not need to touch it under the ground, nor should those hands help pull it out of the properly prepared ground. In fact, such human attempts to directly manipulate will almost surely doom the bean's development. The effective gardener knows that arranging correct conditions and leaving the actual plant alone to seek its own growth is the best way to allow it to reach its greatest potential.
Fostering the natural growth of the bean is analogous to how one applies person-centered theory to counseling. The client has all the necessary but as yet unfulfilled potential for attaining greater self-understanding, self-acceptance, self-growth, self-satisfaction, and self- actualization. The practitioner's task is to provide the essential growth conditions of a genuine human relationship in which acceptance, caring, and a deep understanding are developed and communicated effectively to the client. Providing these conditions involves intervention strategies that allow clients to make changes in the direction of their greatest potential.
Goals of Counseling and Psychotherapy
Movement from incongruence to congruence identifies the cornerstone person-centered goal for people who are having psychological or sociological difficulties. They are attempting to perceive more accurately their own positive nature and learn to use it more effectively in their everyday lives. As this occurs, they will better accept both their strengths and weaknesses as legitimate and evolving parts of their positive nature. This acceptance reduces distortions in their view of the world and leads to greater accuracy in the match between how they see themselves and their interactions with people, ideas, and things.
Reduced distortions and a greater trust in one's evolving positive nature lead to other specific outcomes that practitioners often identify as goals of counseling. Successful clients generally become more flexible and creative in their thoughts and actions as they free themselves from stereotypes and inappropriately imposed conditions of worth. They begin to see a wider range of potential for themselves, gain confidence in the expression of their feelings, and are enthusiastic about the new aspects of their lives being opened. Newfound levels of freedom to trust the accuracy of feelings and thoughts allow the actions necessary to overcome senses of helplessness, powerlessness, and the inability to make decisions about the present and future. This increased self-empowerment is perhaps the most noticeable outcome for everyone around an individual who has benefited from person-centered counseling