What is Person-Centred Therapy and how can it be used to treat addictions?

At East Coast Recovery, we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for recovery from addiction. It takes different things for different people to stay the course after a battle with substance abuse.

As such, our recovery solution integrates a range of psychological therapies into the 12-step model of addiction treatment. We use powerful psychotherapies in harmony with the principles of the 12-step programme to create a tailored solution to suit each and every one of our clients. One of the therapies we offer is Person-Centred Therapy.

Created in the 1950s by psychologist Carl Rogers, this therapy promotes a humanistic approach. The therapy explores the way you perceive yourself consciously, rather than how a therapist interprets your unconscious thoughts or ideas.

The fundamental thought behind the therapy is that people have an innate capacity and desire for personal growth and change. However, the ability to develop towards your full potential can become restricted or distorted by life experiences and in particular, those life experiences that negatively affect your sense of value and self-worth.

Following a humanistic approach, this talking therapy works to understand experiences from your perspective. Your therapist will value you, as a person, in all aspects of your humanity. This method aims to help you feel accepted and to better understand your feelings. The overriding goal is to reconnect you with your values and sense of worth to pave the way for moving forward and progressing on the road to recovery.

Person-Centred Therapy works by allowing you to explore and tap into your own strengths and personal identity. It slots in seamlessly alongside various stages of the 12-step model. It encourages you to take an active role in your recovery and to come up with your own strategies for living substance-free.

Unlike the approach of many traditional therapies, Person-Centred Therapy encourages the client to lead the process. Your therapist will listen, encourage and support you without interrupting or interfering with your process of self-discovery. In effect, you become the expert and your therapist facilitates your journey. It’s a collaborative process but you decide what course of action to take. Your therapist feeds back and clarifies your responses to enable you to get a clearer picture of what needs to change. Person-Centred Therapy can help you find a balance between who you are and who you want to be.

This type of therapy can help in several ways. Firstly, it takes the focus away from the substance you are addicted to. Drugs or alcohol misuse and its associated addicted behaviour are not the sole focus. The emphasis broadens to explore you, as a whole person and your perception of reality. It allows you to explore how you battle with addiction and why you might engage in certain behaviours.

Person-Centred Therapy can be particularly helpful in boosting self-esteem and increasing self-awareness and self-reliance. Rogers strongly believed that for a client’s condition to improve, a person-centred therapist needs to be warm, genuine and understanding. To facilitate this, this type of therapy is not restricted to traditional, therapeutic techniques. The quality of the relationship between the therapist and client is crucial.

There are three guiding principles surrounding a therapist’s attitude that can help determine the success of this approach. Rogers considered ‘congruence’ or genuineness to be an important attribute for this type of therapy. This means your therapist will be their genuine self rather than present the veiled face of orthodox counselling. The second principle is known as ‘unconditional positive regard.’ This dictates that your therapist will not pass judgement but value you, as you are. The final principle is ‘empathy.’ Your therapist will be able to understand your feelings and reassure you that they are sensitive to how you are feeling.

We use Person-Centred Therapy alongside the 12-step recovery model. The model asks that you take an honest and sometimes uncomfortable personal inventory. Person-Centred Therapy provides a safe setting in which to do exactly that. You can uncover weaknesses, behaviours and attitudes that need changing with the support of a compassionate and understanding therapist. Likewise, you can discover strengths and positive traits that can help to change how you see yourself and increase your self-esteem. When you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you’re better able to make more appropriate choices for you. Rather than trying to achieve perfection, this type of therapy enables you to focus on improvement.

Person-Centred Therapy allows you to explore your perspective to find your best path to sobriety. Around 90% of East Coast Recovery’s staff has first-hand experience of addiction and recovery. This level of understanding can help you to push through your own personal barrier to live a life free from addiction.