Kenya Association of Professional Counsellors School of Counselling Studies MA IN COUNSELLING STUDIES Please fill in all details and attach to every assignment you complete. Student’s Name:Dorcas Adoyo Mwinda Date of Submission: 30th October 2009 Assignment: (please tick appropriate box)1 2 Module 1‘Exploration in Counselling’ Module 2: ‘Understanding in Counselling’ Module
Module 5 ‘Research Methods’ Module 6 ‘Dissertation’ Title of Assignment: The Appropriateness of Person centered Approach in Sub-Saharan Africa Comments: (please tick appropriate box) First Internal Examiner Second External ExaminerSecond Internal Examiner External Examiner Recommended Result:Percentage:Level (MA/PG Dip) Name of Examiner:Elias Gikundi Signed:Date: TABLE OF CONTENTS TITLEPage No. Introduction2 What is person centred Approach3 View of Human nature3 Congruence5
Unconditional Positive Regard6 Empathic Understanding6 Concepts exposed in person- centred Approach7 Values exposed in person centred approach9 Effectiveness of Person Centred Approach in Sub-Saharan Africa11 Conclusion13 References14 INTRODUCTION Counselling has been perceived as an advice in many sub- Saharan African countries and also the fact that there are many counselling approaches which are used; it has even become more confusing for people to understand.
But due to different experiences we face in African countries like tribal clashes, culture differences, Poverty, political instability, racism, unemployment, HIV/AIDS and many others counselling was introduced from the western culture to provide healing to the affected and infected people, and thus person centred approach was adopted because it helps deal with individual feelings, which would help the readjust back to the surrounding both literally and psychologically. Person centred approach is one among the other counselling approaches used in sessions which I am sure that it is not well known in sub Saharan African.
In this paper, I am going to going to discuss on the relevance of person centred approach in sub- Saharan African and also examining in Kenyan concept. In summing up I shall give my conclusion on what I think or feel about the topic am writing about. WHAT IS PERSON CENTRED APPROACH? Person centred approach championed by Carl Rogers in the 1930s and 1940s. This approach assist clients to listen to their feelings and inner voices and in doing
Since we are aware what it is all about then the question is ‘how does it view human beings”? VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE Rogers (1961) says that person centred approach view human beings as having the ability to steer the course of their lives, if offered in a relationship the core conditions. Rogers (1967) also states that to be self which one is truly is, is more than an attainable goal of person centred therapy, but a key aspect in the process of becoming a fully functioning person.
I do agree with Rogers because, this therapy does not allow a client to talk about others but brings the client to self and dealing with what is affect him or her now. In person centred approach human nature is seen as basically social so that human beings are by nature protective, caring, compassionate and understanding towards each other, (Mearns et al. 1988). He argues that the dependence of human infants and interdepence of adults’ points in the same direction as does the inmate capacity to infer imaginatively the experience of others.
According to Bozarth et al. (1986) person centred approach has the belief that all human beings have within them the innate capacity to grow towards their own unique fulfilment (or to move towards self actualisation). I personally feel that despite all cultural impact on us, environmental factors and values that are being imposed on us, we still have the drive towards self actualisation and also discover within ourselves the capacity of growth, and therefore whatever we do, we are the people who knows what is right and wrong for us but not others.
Rogers (1951) emphasises that an accurate concept of self is crucial for healthy development, he stated that a long with a realistic self concept goes a realist perception of reality and situation in which the individual finds himself or herself in. ( Kirschenbaum et al, 1989). My contention is that the aim of life as it is called by Rogers “ to be that self which one is truly is” has been on philosophical minds for centuries and to date individuals are still wrestling with the very concept of being true to self.
Corey (2001) underscores the same when he says that person centred therapy puts emphasis on concepts of freedom, choice, values, personal responsibility, autonomy, purpose and meaning. Despite this approach emphasizing on individual development, in some sub Saharan African countries (Kenya being one of them) personal development is seen as selfish and importance is cultural value of the common good to individuals.
If we are to be more explicit about our culture, which is what we propose, it is important for the therapist to be visible in terms of their value system or “African view” beliefs and standing in the community. This allows therapists to be clear in and about their relationship with clients and offers the client the safety that the therapist is not a detached remote or mystical figure but an accountable member of the community. Person centred approach is perhaps the only theory to take predominately a good animal view of human nature.
For Rogers the actual tendency in humans is positive and it only become negative to the extent that it is blocked and frustrated by environmental factors. While going through the view of human nature by person centred theory I realised that there are core conditions which are necessary in this approach which acts as guidance in counselling session. Like wise Green (2002) suggests that the presence of core conditions in the therapeutic relationship can set in train a directional process towards being more true to one self. So what are these core conditions? Congruence
Rogers (1961, pg 61) defined therapist congruence as: by this we mean that the feelings the therapist is experiencing are available to him, available to his awareness and he is able to live these feelings a, be them and able to communicate them if appropriate . awareness involves the therapist awareness of their own culture and themselves in relation to it and indeed to the world. Congruence enables a therapist to come to terms with their position in society and the predicaments of life in relation to culture. It is useful in a session because it brings about trust in a helping relationship.
I have come to realise that being trustworthy does not demand that I be rigidly consistent but be dependably real (Rogers 1990a, pg 19). from my experience in counselling I have come to realise that congruence is imperative in a session because it makes it easier for a client to trust you. In Kenya there are forty two tribes with different culture, but still it will not hinder the therapist to be congruent because a client only needs trust and genuineness which makes them feel that they are I the right place and also they can get honest response from a counsellor.
Mearns et al. (1988) says that in the person centred approaches, congruence dissolves the mysteriousness of the counsellor , and as with other core conditions it has its roots and equivalence in other cultural traditions as wisdom, mindfulness, active surrender ( Purton, 1994). Unconditional positive regard. Rogers describe this condition variously as unconditional acceptance, prizing, non- possessive, love and warmth. He adds that developmentally as humans, we have a need for unconditional positive regard and to have an internal self guard, (Rogers, 1959).
Unconditional positive regard is important because it directly sabotages such conditions of worth; the counsellor values her client irrespective of the client conforming to conditions. I feel it is important for therapist to be clear about their own culture, both their culture of origin and their present culture and to be aware of the positive message about their culture especially if the therapist themselves had problems in growing and developing within their own culture. Villas- Rose Bowen (1984) says that in developing perspectives on unconditional positive regard, then we need to consider regard for self, others and culture itself.
Empathic understanding Empathic understandings Rogers mostly referred to it is to sense the clients private world as if it were your own, but without ever losing the “as if” quality, (Rogers, 1957). In my opinion, the “as if” condition as Rogers proposes it, in his 1959 definition of empathy must in the first place be understood as the stressing of the necessity of being continuously aware that the experience and feeling that the therapist is trying to live into, do originate in the client and not in the therapist. (Vanderschot,1990 p. 290). personally think that empathy is the ability to stand very close to someone else to appreciate what it is like to be that other person in that other person in that other persons world. This never feels easy because it involves stepping out of your own frame works and trying to appreciate what it is to view ones culture through their eyes rather than your own. Concepts exposed in person centred approach. According to D’ardenne et al. (1989) effective person centred counsellors are people who demonstrate the essential qualities of genuineness, non-possessiveness, warmth and empathy with the clients.
Counsellors treat their clients with non-judgemental respect and hope to introduce practical ways in which this can be achieved across any cultural divide. I do find it rather easy and flowing when all those qualities mentioned above are applied in session and you find that it even makes a client to feel free to share his experience without any fear. Person centred is a means of meshing the symbolised (or symbolising) incongruence of the client with the congruence of the therapist. It is not appropriate process for people who are merely wishing to have education experience. Mearns et al. 2000). With different problems facing many sub- Saharan countries, people feel that they do need education to help them curb their problems, but unlike other counselling approaches as psychodynamic and gestalt which provides education, person centred approach tends to differ. I do agree with Mearns because people do not only need education which they feel will enable them get out of the problems they are facing but person centred emphasis is on working with the person to help him deal with the problem. Rogers, 1959) adds that person centred therapy simply does not work with clients who are experiencing incongruence in their living and wanting to change that incongruence. Person centred approach requires a level of acceptance which enable therapists to sustain themselves when clients attack them. I feel that this is highly vital because due to many problems that affect people in sub- Saharan Africa which in most cases have badly damaged their experience in life, they tend to relieve their anger and stresses, and even feeling to counsellors.
The therapist should provide support to the affected clients and therefore the level of acceptance needs to be sufficiently robust to withstand the pain of relating to those who prove to be aggressive, demeaning or even contemptuous and hostile ( Mearns et al. 2000). According to Thorne (19910 person centred approaches start from the assumption that every living organism is driven by an “actualising tendency” an instinctive reflecting the desire to grow, develop and enhance one capacities to the fullest ( actualisation ).
Mearns and Thorne (2000) states that this process of self actualisation is fraught with complexity and anxiety because the organismic self as essentially trustworthy and a unified whole of experiencing conflict within the developing self concept of the individual which distorts or denies experiences into awareness as it is heavily dependent on positive regard fro others. And as Thorne (1991) argues that gradually we learn to see ourselves as others ignoring our own inner experiencing.
I personally feel that one cannot get to self actualisation without struggle and taking example of my country Kenya, many people do live below the poverty line and are ready to do anything just to be able to cater his basic needs and therefore instead of focussing in how to get out of the situation, he seeks refuge from others and even try to copy their lifestyle putting at the back of his mind what he is and hence ignoring our inner experience and views ourselves as others.
Covey (1989) argues that in African society, we may have gained an incredible degree of outward success but inwardly individuals have divorced themselves from the roots and valuing process in serving the structure of capitalist society. Therefore this approach enables a person to work with the deeper need to actualise rather than depending on others.
Rogers was fundamentally an optimist about human potential, arguing that ideally the actualising tendency refers to self actualisation where aspects of self and concepts are synonymous or congruent, ( Mearns and Thorne, 2000), this ideal human conditions is embroiled in the fully functioning persons who as Rogers ( 1959) state: “… is open to experience , able to live existentially, is trusting in his or her own organism, experience feelings freely, acts independently, is active and lives an enriched life, he is in the process of being and becoming himself…. (p 192) Values exposed through person centred approach. The person centred point of view places high value on the experience of the individual human beings and or the importance of his or her subjective reality. It also challenges each person to accept responsibility of his or her own life, (Mearns et al. 1988). Rogers (1961) argues that the basic value in person centred approach is the conviction that personal experience is the highest authority.
With all the problems and hardships being experienced in sub- Saharan Africa like the tribal clashes, sexual abuse, drought and hunger, poor governance, lack of medical expertise and medicines and many others which leads to introjections of other people’s value in order to gain positive regard. Problems later arise when they view these introjected values as their own. One goal of person centred approach is to reverse this pattern and help the client to select his or her own value (Thorne et al. 998). The coming into consciousness of the African Personality highlighted how African cultural values differed from those that were imposed upon them (Len-Holdstock, 2000). Person centred approach places the therapist in a paradoxical position, in that the therapist will never seek to guide the client to a particular value or gaol but to guide the client towards contact with his or her inner organismic self away from external value.
In other word the therapist is actively trying to facilitate the client’s movement from the outer world of the conditions of worth into the inner world of the organismic valuing process. (Van Kalmthout, 1995). The concept of self is also exposed as a value in person centred approach because according to Rogers (1951) an acute concept of self is crucial for healthy development. In addition, Covey, (1989) states that modern society is characterised by pervasive wars, genocide, exploitation and general disenchantment, hence individuals are in battle with an inner craving for growth and development.
Markus and Kitayama (1991) argues that psychological merit of attending to the self, appreciation of others difference from others and importance of asserting to self. I do agree with theme in sense that person centred approach brings out the need of self awareness which Rowen (1983) says is a state of consciousness where we are genuinely open to listen on all the levels, thus enabling one to become independent from others and discover and be able to express one’s unique attributes. Sub- Saharan countries people have suffered so much because of lack of awareness.
In regard to the post election violence in Kenya two years ago, many got affected because they were not aware of repercussions of the violence to them and that they are used as a tool by our politicians, whom imposed their values on them hence acting on others values forgetting about their own values. Collier ( 1977 argues that Rogers boast of the essential equality of human beings claiming that every individual has the same forward moving humanity and capacity for happiness when one is true to one self.
Effectiveness of person centred approach in sub-Saharan Africa Person centred approach mainly focuses on the well being of a person, mainly focussing on his personal feelings and being able to provide core conditions for a helping which in very vital because it encourages independence of a person, which African culture puts so much value in ones social connectedness. The growth of people in the African perspective as Owusun-Bempah and Howitt (2000) put it, is not individual, but it also involves the whole society and the wider aspects of such a society.
The two add that the aim of the development of the self is the achievement of a truly social self through, the harmonious relations and the interdependence with others. Person centred approach do emphasise the autonomy of a client which in sub-Saharan Africa have sense of normal development where the individual becomes conscious of his own being, his duties, his privileges and responsible towards himself and toward others.
An example is the case of human genocide that happened in Rwanda some years go, where their were ethical clashes between two tribes, but after the incident the citizens later realised that what they were doing was not actual right but out of other people orders hence when truth and reconciliation commissioner was formed they had to be made aware of their actions and also made to take responsibility of their actions as well. Am mazed by the effectiveness of this approach because it actual makes one come into reality of life and be able to see things in a different angle and all these he comes up with them without any education or being told what to do. This approach has enabled change, especially in the urban areas, however this is not to say that African traditional philosophy have been shelved. In essence, change as Shorter (1998) says may be radical but if seldom total. Clearly what we experience in Africa is general and specifically in Kenya is radical transformations but with continuities.
Conclusion In many ways. I have realised that person centred philosophical roots are useful in sub- Saharan Africa because it echoes and has echoes in many cultural and religious traditions. The concepts, language, practice attitudes of person centred approach are familiar in many ways. The other important things are, i have come to appreciate the effectivessness of the core conditions which are necessary and sufficient in our cultural context. References Bozarth, J. and Temaner Brodley B. (1986). The core conditions and Theory of the person centred. Chicago; Praegers.
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