As a person centred dance movement psychotherapist, myself perhaps it would be good for me to explain briefly for you reading this what it actually means and how you might imagine my work with children.
The person centred approach to psychotherapy for children is based on the belief in the life force of the organism, the forces of life within the child that inherently knows what is good for them or what is the right pathway to move along, the one that will encourage them to reach their fullest potential.
This particular style of therapy sees the correct psychological environment as essential so that the child feels free from physical and psychological threat.
This is not achieved through arranging the furniture or having nice lights and bright colours, it is achieved through the relationship with the therapist. The therapist, who understands the child’s needs, desires deeply; who is empathic. The therapist who accepts the child unconditionally, prizes and has positive regard for them at all times. In addition, finally, the therapist who is very genuine; congruent, being herself without any façade.
Carl Rogers the founder of the Person-centred approach said:
“…deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another”
Empathy is putting yourself into another’s skin to feel their pain/frustration; their joy e.t.c.to resonate with them as oppose to seeing yourself as separate or superior in any way. To sense accurately the feelings and meanings of these feelings that the child is experiencing and communicating this understanding to them; having a real sensitive and active listening ability is one of the most potent forces for change (Rogers 1980)
Trusting in the child:
To encourage change to occur in the child the therapist accepts completely the child and his/her immediate and moment to moment feelings, expressions without wanting to change them or control them in any way. Rather to welcome them, their behaviours and attitudes with an acceptant loving attitude herself; prizing their opinions, their ways as worthy and having belief that this child is fundamentally trustworthy.
The more the therapist is real without any professional or personal masks the child will respond beautifully. Just as she accepts unconditionally the child’s experience, so the therapist is openly living the feelings and attitudes that are running through her.
Person centred psychotherapy traditionally has been a talking therapy but what about those children who do not talk? On the other hand, who when do have such a hard time either articulating or being heard or even understanding themselves their own vocabulary?
Through movement, we have the opportunity to meet the child in ways which are inaccessible through talking, we open up a whole new language!