A Person-Centered Approach to the Medical Professions

Have you ever had a medical professional who was caring, compassionate, and good at helping you feel comfortable? Have you ever had a medical professional who listened, encouraged, and motivated you to make a positive change in your overall health? If so, then that professional was utilizing a skill set within the field of psychology.

One particular skill set within the field of psychology is a person-centered approach to clients. This approach encourages medical professionals to identify and incorporate clients’ personal perspectives, values, beliefs and preferences into treatment. It meets the client “where they are at” in terms of their overall health. This “therapeutic alliance” between individual and provider is often a key element within the treatment process. Without it, there is no trust and no bond created, which can sometimes be the difference between a client healing or getting worse.

The person-centered approach involves empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard. Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from one’s own. Genuineness is the ability to be authentic in relation to the client’s emotions and feelings and is regarded as the most important aspect of the person-centered approach. Unconditional positive regard is the ability of a provider to “accept the client as they are.” The provider may not approve of some of the client’s actions, but the provider does approve of the client.

Psychology is of major importance in careers such as nursing, counseling, or any other medical profession. These professionals build relationships with their clients.  Medical professionals use psychology in order to develop a rapport with their clients and create an environment conducive for healing. Likewise, they can determine whether a particular challenge is contributing to a patient’s emotional state. Medical professionals also may apply psychological strategies on themselves to an extent. They are able to perform under stress and attempt to navigate through all the emotions of a client to drill down to the root of the problem effectively.

Maria College offers a variety of psychology courses that can help students build skill sets such as a person-centered approach to the medical profession. These skill sets not only help establish best-practice when interacting with clients but also help students develop a better sense of their overall well-being.

Written by Michael S. Washco MS, LMHC, NCC | Instructor Liberal Arts and Management

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