Person-centered Approach in Solving Maria’s Case

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Person-centered Approach in Solving Maria’s Case


A group is a number of individuals who have frequent interaction, mutual influence,
regular contact, and who work together to achieve a similar goal. “AIPC Article Library | Group Development Stages” (2010), states that there are different types of groups including: psycho-educational groups, encounter groups, therapy groups, counseling groups, and self-help groups. An encounter group is a collection of individuals who are involved in psychotherapeutic and intensive interpersonal communication with intention of increasing awareness while improving these skills. It is composed of less than ten people and a trained specialist who maintains the environment and its goal is to increase interpersonal skills.  In an encounter group, individuals’ behaviors are shaped by adapting the attitude of other individuals by enabling them to discover and adopt morally appropriate behavior. As a group leader, I will employ psycho-educational group therapy which goes the stages of forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning/termination to reolve Maria’s problem.

Psycho-educational group therapy educates an individual about their disorders and strategies of coping them. It is based on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) principles and is composed of members facing the same disorder (Carey, Mansell, & Tai, 2015). A psycho-educational group leader should either be a peer counselor facing the same disorder, a mental health expert, or community member. A therapy group is a psychosocial treatment group where individuals meet regularly to interact, discuss problems, or talk and their leader is a therapist. It gives the patient a safe and comfortable place that gives them insight into their own behaviors and thoughts and helps them solve their emotional issues. 

According to Carey, Mansell, and Tai (2015), a counseling group is a therapy group where individuals with similar disorders or experiences meet with a professional therapist.  It involves four to eight individuals together with a trained therapist. The members in a counseling group discuss various issues like improving self-esteem, exploring relationships, and enhancing coping skills. Corey (2008) argues that a counseling group is essential for people with relationship issues and addresses concerns like: frequent disagreement with others, isolation or loneliness, superficial relationships, shyness, discomfort in social situations, being easily offended, difficulty in trusting others, fear of being abandoned, and demanding a lot of reassurance from others.

A counseling group would be the best group for Maria as she is experiencing physical violence, is lonely, and has faced rejection from her friends and family. An effective counseling group therapy will help Maria to enhance her self-responsibility, create change and recovery support, increase her readiness for change, cope with her individual discomfort, and recognize destructive behaviors. While facilitating group counseling, the group leader should create a sense of belonging and build cohesiveness and trust for all members during the developmental phase. As a group leader, one is supposed to share their own personal values, life experiences, and qualities to the group.

The leader’s personality is a catalyst that should introduce change to the group they are leading. Short and Thomas (2015) explain that a group counseling effectiveness drive believes in the group’s process to permit it in releasing its power through trust, feedback, cohesion, belongings, positive reinforcement, conflict resolution, modeling, meaningful self-disclosure, and using its social structure in providing new social behavior practice testing grounds. As a group leader, it is essential to teach group members to speak in first person. Another role is teaching participants to make statements rather than asking questions, making attempts to rescue others, and also interpreting the statements of other participants.

The leader is also charged with the role of ensuring that all issues are resolved with and the aim of protecting the self-belonging of members. As a leader, it is essential to ensure confidentiality between members and whatever is discussed in the group should not be narrated to outsiders unless it concerns the narrator and this builds trust.

Different group theoretical approaches include Adlerian group counseling, person-centered counseling (humanistic), cognitive-behavioral counseling, and psychodrama. Adlerian group emphasizes on cooperation, education, and social development. The common aspect of Adlerian group is emphasizing on an individual’s early history. Its practice is based on interpersonal, stressing individuals, and group process goals (Corey, 2008). Group members should be self-oriented, goal oriented, and socially oriented. Psychodrama concentrates on the concepts of the past and future, and the causative agents of a client’s behavior. During a session in psychodrama the client is the protagonist and centers on a specific past or future event.

The person-centered approach is a development of humanistic psychology concepts. It views people as autonomous and capable with the ability to realize their potential, resolve their difficulties, and change their lives positively (Mearns, 1997). This is the approach that will be used in group counseling in Maria’s case. Using the Person-centered approach will promote authenticity, self-esteem and members’ actualization as it helps them utilize their strengths.  As a leader, I am required to be empathetic and non-judgmental on my clients’ situations. 

The goals of person-centered approach will include empowering the clients to change (Mearns, 1997). It will be the best approach in promoting Maria’s self-esteem and self-awareness while encouraging her congruence behavior and feelings. The approach will also help her in managing her life and becoming self-actualized. The approach will also facilitate her trust and ability to live in the present moment. This will help her to be honest during the session and she will not feel judged by the other members or the therapists. As a leader using this approach, I am required to have unconditional positive regard, be congruent, non-direct, empathetic, and a reflection of the group’s feelings.

In congruence, the leader should be authentic and genuine in what they say and do. The leader should concentrate on the present situation and be aware of what members say.  Unconditional positive regard refers to the leader caring, accepting, and respecting clients (Short & Thomas, 2015). This will allow the clients to express their thinking without being judged and will facilitate the changing process as it illustrates acceptance. As a leader, it is mandatory to be empathetic as it illustrates the understanding of the emotions of the clients. 

In non-directiveness, as a leader, the best way to sustain person centered approach is through probing with open-ended questions as they will give the members a platform to explain and share their own perspective on opportunities and problems (Daw & Joseph, 2010). These questions will generate a discussion helping the leader to understand their feelings and thoughts. This works well after formation of trust which develops self-revelation making the client more comfortable while disclosing their issues.

Stages of Group Development

A group passes through different development stages: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning/termination.


The first stage in group development is the forming stage which is characterized by uncertainty. The group members are restrained towards their behaviors due to the great acceptance desire from other members. Personal opinions, conflict, and controversy do not occur even after formation of impression and understanding of what the group requires from them. At this stage, the members are becoming familiar with each other and the group leader should concentrate more on building trust, a mutualism during this stage. 

At this stage the main scope is orienting members to each other and to the tasks. As a leader I am required to educate and clarify: my role in the group, the purpose, and member participation and operation guidance. At this stage my strive is allowing interpersonal distance while inviting trust as I assist every client to recognize their individual goals and identify shared aims between them. At this juncture, the group leader empathizes on the participants needs. The leader should discuss with the members ways of violating confidentiality and how to avoid them, and discuss the consequences of breaking confidentiality.


The second stage is storming which is characterized by conflict and competition as personal relationships are developed between the group leader and the clients. Conflict will result as the members are attempting to organize the task making them to stoop their attitudes, feelings, ideas and beliefs to suit those of other participants. This stage is characterized by fear of failure or fear of exposure leading to elevated structural commitment and clarification. Questions are generated on the rules, evaluation criteria, responsibilities and the constitution of the reward system. These give rise to conflict over authority, structure, power, and leadership giving rise to wide swings brought about by the emerging issues on hostilities and completion.

My role as a leader in this stage is to reaffirm the members’ common goals and purpose. Another role at this stage is encouraging interpersonal learning and group cohesion and of the participant by re-infusing the group expectations and rules. Daw and Joseph (2010) state that the leader will elicit the negative effect expression while assisting the participants in identifying and resolving conflicts. Incongruent behaviors against the goals of the group are confronted.


During this stage, cohesion characterizes interpersonal relations as the clients are already in a consensus in group norms and dynamics which allows unique and commonality personal qualities of each member (Kearney & Lvain, n.d.). The participants are determined to change their predetermined opinions or ideas on facts basis as presented by others. This identification and knowing each other better builds trust on individual relationships resulting to group cohesion. At this stage, members experience a feeling of relief and a sense of belonging as a result of resolved interpersonal issues. 

Through trust, the group members share feelings and facts, explore tasks and actions, and give feedback to each other. This leads to high creativity, openness, and interactions, and there is a good feeling of being associated with the group due to its effectiveness (Humphrey & Zimpfer, 2008). At this stage, my aim as a leader is maintaining an equilibrium between support and confrontation. My role is facilitating progress in an on-going manner while promoting insights and feedback, and encouraging problem solving.


Short and Thomas (2015) explain that not all groups reach at this stage and any group reaching here illustrates that their personal interaction depth, range, and capacity reaches a vibrant and constructive interdependence. This stage is marked with interdependence in acceptance of their differences, personal relationships and problem solving while in their tasks. At this stage Maria should be independent and not looking forward for any approval from other members. 

She will experience a sense of belonging and accept saving that energy to strive for acceptance as her self-esteem is raised. At this stage, members are highly people-oriented and task-oriented leading to complete group identity, high group morale, unity, and intense group loyalty. As a leader, my focus is letting the counseling group run itself as I shift my focus on facilitating the creation of empathy among the members and assisting them in amplifying and acknowledging personal differences.


This is the last stage in group counseling development which involves termination of task disengagements and behaviors from the group association. While concluding a group, minor crises may arise in the form of sadness, anger, anxiety, and disorder (Kearney & Lvain, n.d.). In case of successful psychological support group, some members may experience termination with a profound loss of relationship and the member may have alternate defensive denial periods.

My role as a leader is assisting members to express their inner feeling as we adjourn the process while summarizing all unfinished businesses. It is also essential to evaluate and review the progress of my group and plan with my clients of having post group period. I would ensure that my clients have opportunities where they will express proper goodbyes with each other. Some of my clients may require follow up like Maria to watch their progress on their issues and the way they will relate with the community and family.


This therapy will instill hope in Maria’s life as she discovers commonalities from other members and it will help her with solutions to her current situation. This therapy will ameliorate her feelings after the realization that others are facing the same problem as herself. This group may seem a comparable to her family and the way she have related with other members may help her in working out and solving past pending issues. The participant will also explore her feelings, vent as she also gets relieved for expressing her feelings. To ensure effectiveness during the counseling process, the group leader should be patient and respectful to members and also should have skills that arouse tension. Effective group counseling requires selection of manageable participants, screening them, setting rules, and having specific day and time to conduct the group.


AIPC Article Library | Group Development Stages. (2010). Retrieved 5 August 2016, from

Carey, T., Mansell, W., & Tai, S. (2015). Principles-Based Counselling and Psychotherapy. Florence: Taylor and Francis.

Corey, G. (2008). Theory and practice of group counseling. Australia: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Daw, B. & Joseph, S. (2010). Psychological mindedness and therapist attributes. Counselling And Psychotherapy Research, 10(3), 233-236.

Humphrey, G. & Zimpfer, D. (2008). Counselling for grief and bereavement. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Kearney, R. & Lvain, J. chapter 8:Critical Components of Professional Nursing Practice. armstrong. com. Retrieved 5 August 2016, from

Mearns, D. (1997). Person-centred counselling training. London: SAGE Publications.

Short, F. & Thomas, P. (2015). Core approaches in counselling and psychotherapy. London: Routledge.

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