Understanding The Person-Centred Approach: The Principles And Applications In Our Services

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In today’s rapidly evolving world, the emphasis on individualised care and support has never been more crucial. The person-centred approach, originally rooted in psychotherapy, has transcended its origins to influence various fields such as healthcare, education, and social services. This approach prioritises the individual’s needs, preferences and values, ensuring they are at the heart of any work undertaken with them.

In this blog, we will explore the fundamentals of the person-centred approach, its benefits, and its application to the work we undertake with young people at Focusing Minds.

What is the Person-Centred Approach?

The person-centred approach, developed by psychologist Carl Rogers in the mid-20th century, is a humanistic approach that emphasises the importance of understanding and valuing each person’s unique experiences and perspectives. At its core, this approach is about respecting and responding to the individual’s needs and desires, rather than imposing predefined solutions or treatments. It is believed that, by providing support to an individual utilising key principles, they will reach empowerment to facilitate change for themselves.

Key Principles of the Person-Centred Approach

  • Individuality: Recognising and valuing each person’s unique qualities and experiences. Everyone is different, everyone is unique with their own needs and desires.
  • Empathy: Understanding the person’s feelings and perspectives deeply and genuinely, fostering congruence in both practitioner and individual.
  • Unconditional Positive Regard: Defined by Rogers himself as accepting another person for who they are, their values, attitudes and beliefs without question or judgement.
  • Respect: Honouring the person’s choices, values, and beliefs.
  • Non Directive: Empowering individuals to take control of their own lives and make decisions that affect them.
  • Collaboration: Working together with the individual to develop plans and solutions that meet their specific needs.

Benefits of the Person-Centred Approach

  • Enhanced Well-being: Individuals feel more valued and respected, leading to improved mental and emotional health.
  • Better Outcomes: Tailored interventions and support often lead to more effective and sustainable results.
  • Increased Satisfaction: When people are involved in decision-making processes, they are more likely to be satisfied with the services they receive.
  • Strengthened Relationships: Building trust and rapport through empathy and respect fosters stronger, more collaborative relationships.

Applications in Education

In educational settings, this approach supports student-centered learning and development by:

  • Adapting methods of delivery to fit individual learning styles and specific needs of the individual. This can lead to improved academic outcomes and engagement from the student in their studies.
  • Encouraging students to take an active role in their education and development. Developing the confidence to find their own solutions to concerns but also be more aware of the challenges the face and the reasons behind them.
  • Fostering a supportive and inclusive learning and development environment. The individual doesn’t feel like they are being directed and as such, feel included in support which benefits them.

Application of the Person-Centred Approach

At Focusing Minds, we strongly feel that the person-centred approach has significantly positive impacts on the young people we support. But how do we apply it in our everyday work?

Relationships: Key to any progress is having an effective working relationship with the young person we’re working with. Our approach allows for a trusting relationship to develop over time, based on the individual. For some, a relationship may develop rapidly whilst for others, their past experiences and circumstances may mean this takes longer. It is widely accepted that, where positive relationships are in place, outcomes are improved.

Acceptance: A core principle of the approach is acceptance of the individual, regardless of their views, beliefs, attitudes and values. By not judging the young person from our own frame of reference, not only do relationships develop based on trust and respect, but the young person is more likely to demonstrate greater congruence and be themselves. In time, a confidence develops, with the young person able to take this into the wider context of their everyday lives.

Non-directive approach: By taking a non-directive approach, young people feel more in control of their own actions and more likely to develop their own solutions to the more pressing issues they may face. When it comes to offering strategies of support, these are specific based on needs and are not delivered in a way which suggests to the individual that they must adopt them.

Active listening: The young people we work with feel listened to and, consequently, that they have a voice and are being heard. The feeling that their worker understands them is key to further developing the relationship and increases the likelihood of exploring concerns in more depth.


The person-centred approach is a transformative method that places individuals at the forefront of their support. By recognising and valuing each person’s unique needs and perspectives, we can create more effective, respectful, and empowering environments. As this approach continues to gain traction across various fields, its potential to enhance well-being and foster positive outcomes remains undeniable.

Adopting a person-centred approach requires dedication, empathy, and a commitment to continuous improvement. However, the rewards – for individuals and society as a whole – are profound, paving the way for a more inclusive and compassionate society.