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The Person-Centered Approach in Coaching


Coaching psychology has brought with it a new thinking in psychological practice. Many people, including the practitioners and clients, fail to recognize that coaching psychology principles are embedded on medical practice. In medicine, practitioners view themselves as experts against patients’ lives. In contrast, person-centered approach views clients as their own expert. Coaching psychology has embraced person-centered approach in developing clients’ capacity. It identifies people who need help as clients rather than as clinical patients.

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Person centered approach in coaching sees the clients as people who have a lot of innate potential and only need to rekindle their potentials. Counseling psychologists works with ‘patients’; people who are the lower end of spectrum. However, coaching psychology works with ‘clients’; people who are at the higher end of the spectrum. Person-centered coaches work to facilitate personal wellbeing and cultivating optimum functioning of an individual. Organization managers and leaders needs to adopt coaching principle in their management. Leaders should see their workforce as people with a lot of skills that need to put to optimum use rather than patients who needs experts’ treatment (Flaherty, 2010).

Person centered approach was brought forward by Carl Rogers. In his context, Rogers applied counseling term rather than coaching. Person centered approach was not for curative or repairing of dysfunctions. Consequently, medical diagnostic approaches were never adopted. Their goal was to make clients believe that they can move to their optimal functioning despite the circumstances. Person centered approach was set under the principle that people are their own best experts. It was generally not directed to an individual but any given social setting (McLeod, 2008).

Apart from treatment, person centered approach has been applied in different fields. It has been used in education for students’ development and encouragement. Group learning programs have also shown a significant development in utilization of this model. Parenting programs have embraced personal centered approach in many scenarios. At international and national levels, person centered approach have been applied in conflict resolutions and peace mediations. In any stance, person centered approach works on the root principle that all people are individual experts of themselves. All people have innate power to drive them to their full potential for development and growth (James, 2012).

As long as people can realize their potentials, they become socially constructive and more autonomous. Person centered’ holistic approach unifies positive and negative congruency in people. Rogers never created distinction between lower congruent group and higher congruent groups. Consequently, Rodgers believed that all people have same potential and there are no people with more capability than others. This principle is vital for a coach. A coach need to bring up a team to its maximum potential capacity. In contrast, medical counseling empowers a coach to develop ones potential. Medical coach is set on the principle that only those that use coach’s principle will be empowered (Francis, 2011).

Person-centered principles make the coaches work together with their clients. Since the system allows the ‘client’ and not the ‘patient’ to fully participate, they can easily develop themselves through active participation and self-reflection. An organization manager, as a coach, can easily develop his workforce team through person-centered training programs than clinical counseling. Through person centered approach, workers develop self-reflection and identify their key strengths and weakness (Peltier, 2009). In organizations, managers develops a training program that allows the organization utilize the strengths of their workforce team. At the same time, coaches assist their team in empowering their areas of weakness. According to Groom, ‘If the skills developed in psychological counseling can release the constructive capacities of malfunctioning people so down…I am arguing here foe fuller, deeper kind of listening….nowadays I follow more and lead less.. That we bring ourselves into the relationship’ (Groom, 2005, p. 21-22).

As a leader, Groom justifies that a move from clinical counseling to person-centered couch has helped him in his management. He argues that training is simpler as compared with a manager directed training programs. In person centered approach, leaders have to humble themselves, listen to the clients and following their direction. Just like in any other program, person-centered coaching allows coaches to set strategies, developing action plans and evaluating results. However, emphases are put for the client or the employees to lead and the coaches follow. The coach will evaluate the result of the training program at the end. Contrary, the medical model ensures coach’s role is to lead while the clients follow (Bryant, 2005).

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In organization’ management there is always a need for leaders and employees corporation, however, medical model puts the coach far away from the team that limits corporation. Arguably, medical model believes on experts one best way, while person-centered approach enable individual develop at their own way and through their best method. Person centered coaching enables the clients only to focus on future development. Most employees’ always struggle for better future performance rather than concentration over the past failure. This makes person-centered approach more appropriate for organizational leadership (Dianne & Anthony, 2010).

Person-centered coaching metacognitive principles makes it more useful in a diverse organizational system. The fact that leaders base their assumption that people have inherent growth tendency, and that it is also influenced by social environment enables leaders cultivate maximum potential of their workforce through integration of organization structures and process. Unlike the one way approach in medical model, person-centered approach allows realization of people’s diversity, which is useful in organizational growth. Cognitive behaviors are vital in developing personal reflection among the workforce (Groom, 2005).

A leader as a coach may use such potentials as entrepreneurial, conceptual skills and communication skills that employees have in management. Clinical model’ experts do not realize the importance of ‘patients’ active participation. In an organization, this can bring unhealthy organization relationship between the workforce and the management. Employees will view the system as authoritative that ignores their interest. Person-centered approach, on the other hand, allows employees to be self-driven. At the same time, it fosters strong relationship between organization leaders and the workforce. As a result, person-centered coaching approach is vital in organizational leadership and management (Bryant, 2005).


Rogers’s principle was based on personal empowerment. As a coach, clients are supposed to empower themselves through personal directives and reflection. Medical model, where development is cultivated under an expert guidance have several weaknesses especially in organization leadership. Leaders like Groom, argue that it is easier to allow employees go through self-empowerment than to build their potential through expert’s leadership. Meta-theoretical perspective identifies both expert’s top position in development of patients and making the clients lead at their maximum potential through person-centered approach. In organization management coaching, there is need for reflection on fundamental assumptions that create personal development. Consequently, person-centered approach offers the best approach in organization management.


Bryant, R. (2005). Person-centred Counselling Supervision: Personal and Professional Living Therapy Series. Abingdon: Radcliffe Publishing.

Dianne, R., & Anthony, M. (2010). Evidence Based Coaching Handbook: Putting Best Practices to Work for Your Clients. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Flaherty, J. (3rd Ed.). (2010). Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others. Burlington, MA: Elsevier Science

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Francis, J. (2011). Social Work Treatment: Interlocking Theoretical Approaches: Interlocking Theoretical Approaches. New York: Oxford University Press.

Groom, J. (2005). Effective Listening. The Coaching Psycholist. New York: Oxford University Press.

James, F. (2012).Coaching. London: Routledge

McLeod, S. (2008). Person Centred Therapy. Web.

Peltier, B. (2nd Ed.). (2009). The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory And Application. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

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