Person-Centered Theory Critique
I appreciate many aspects of this theory. In application to therapy between Christians it has some very positive factors. As God "has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3, NASB), it is both biblical and wise to help clients discover their freedom, responsibility and capability (through the power of the Holy Spirit within them), to make positive changes in their lives. Of course, without the Holy Spirit only limited change is possible and this is one area where person-centered theory misses the mark. As with all humanistic concepts, the power and work of the Holy Spirit are not taken into consideration when it is the most important factor for successful client change.
I also appreciate the emphasis placed on the person of the therapist - that they should be congruent and able to truly empathize with the client. I feel these are essential qualities in the counseling process as they contribute to the formation of a positive client/therapist relationship. Above all other qualities, "the therapist's genuineness determines the power of the therapeutic relationship" (Corey, 2009). A client cannot trust someone they don't believe truly understands them and their challenge. Empathy communicates a depth of understanding and is essential for developing trust.
As a Christian, I understand it is far more essential that we encourage client's find God's unique way for them, rather than their own way, and that they test the path they discover against the principles of Scripture. I agree with Corey that a potential limitation to a student of the person-centered approach would be to neglect necessary challenging of the client. God calls us to confront sin (ref. Matthew 18:15-17) with gentleness and love. In helping the client to discover the right path for themselves, the Christian therapist must be able and willing to challenge clients when sinful habits or choices are made.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Person-centered therapy presentation. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Person_Centered_Therapy/index.html.