School of Education

Person-Centred Experiential Counselling Practice and Psychotherapy

 Additional course information


MA Person-Centred Experiential Counselling and Psychotherapy the culmination of nearly 50 years of experience in humanistic psychology within the School of Education. 

Our history goes as far back as 1968 when Dr Eric Hall began teaching in the School of Education and introduced the principles of humanistic psychology. As the 'counselling team' grew, they developed the Certificate in Counselling for Education and then introduced MA Human Relations, which proved a very popular course that many people used towards accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. 

The first MA Counselling ran for 20 years and later MA Counselling Children and Young People was added to the portfolio. The contribution of the original staff members to the development of our current work remains a strong influence. 

Our long heritage and tradition is now being channelled into the MA Person-Centred Experiential Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice. Our commitment and tradition in experiential learning methods is a long-standing cornerstone to our work. We have been developing and refining our provision of the Rogerian small group as a distinct and intense form of experiential learning. We now also use new technologies to support the experiential learning of counselling skills.

We have developed the Counselling and Psychotherapy Associates at the University of Nottingham, a membership organisation for graduates to support and maintain our community.

Our strong international presence within the field of person-centred experiential counselling and psychotherapy, combined with our long and rich history, is what puts the University of Nottingham at the cutting-edge of counselling training. 

The person-centred experiential approach

Person-centred experiential psychotherapy and counselling is part of the group of therapies that are based on humanistic-existential psychology. The approach is grounded in the idea that people are motivated within themselves towards achieving an optimal level of positive psychological functioning if the conditions in their life are supportive.

It is an approach to helping that was originally developed by the psychologist Carl Rogers and has been informed by more recent and contemporary theoretical developments.

When relationships are characterised by empathic understanding, genuine and authentic communication, and acceptance of the other person, people feel more inclined to be honest to themselves about themselves and to seek new and more constructive ways of living. Person-centred experiential therapy aims to create such a relationship between client and therapist. The focus is always on the client’s immediate experiencing as the therapist helps them find ways of moving forward towards their desired goals for living.

Our course is based on person-centred psychology and offers an experiential form of psychotherapy and counselling that emphasises personal responsibility, focused on the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, and the environmental and social contexts of a person's life. Such an approach helps people flourish.

Learning methods

At Nottingham, we are committed to creating a safe, engaging and inclusive learning environment in which you are able to grow as a person and a professional. Classes are characterised by experiential learning activities, critical engagement with theoretical perspectives, and opportunities to reflect and share participants' unique perceptions of issues and events.

Classes are organised to provide multiple opportunities for learning through small, medium and large group activities, so that you have a range of spaces in which to express your feelings, thoughts and experiences.

When this works well, you will develop your understanding of each other as individuals. Over time, trust in the group process reduces fear of failure or exposure, so you can move beyond your comfort zone and try out new ways of learning and being in relationships with others.

Thus, robust relationships between students, and staff and students become the vehicle for learning and growth, and the classroom becomes an environment for learning how to become fully human and fully present to oneself and to others. The course therefore relies on your willingness to play an active part in the course learning community.

This learning community approach requires you to:

  • acknowledge that being a counsellor is a way of being rather than a set of competencies
  • recognise that the course provides a unique opportunity to practice 'being' and 'becoming', not only in class but in all interactions and behaviours with staff, peers, administrators, personal counsellors and placement agencies 

Recommended reading

  • Rogers, C.R. (1951). Client-Centred Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
  • Rogers, C.R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95-103
  • Rogers, C.R. (1959). A theory of therapy, personality, and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centered framework in S. Koch (Ed.), Psychology: A Study of a Science, Vol.3: Formulations of the Person and the Social Context (pp.184-256). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Rogers, C.R. (1961). On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
  • Cooper, M, O'Hara, M, Schmid, PF, and Bohart, A (2013). The Handbook of Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counselling. Palgrave: Houndmills – an up to date reference to many of the key authors and ideas in the field of person-centred experiential psychotherapy and counselling
  • Worsley, R, & Joseph, S (2007). (Eds.) Person-Centred Practice: Case Studies in Positive Psychology. PCCS Books: Ross-on-Wye – this book contains a series of engaging case examples which shows you what person-centred practice looks like with a range of different clients
  • Levitt, BE (2008). (Ed.) Reflections on Human Potential: Bridging the Person-Centred Approach and Positive Psychology. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books – an innovative book which shows how the person-centred approach takes a positive psychology look at human flourishing
  • Proctor, G, Cooper, M, Sanders, P, & Malcolm, B (2006). Politicising the Person-Centred Approach: An Agenda for Social Change. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books – this radical book puts the person-centred approach in the context of social and political factors
  • Kirschenbaum, H. ( 2007). The life and work of Carl Rogers. PCCS Books: Ross-on-Wye
  • Joseph, S. (2010). Therapeutic Approaches in Counselling and Psychotherapy: An introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave – a general introduction to the field of counselling and psychotherapy for those new to the field and who wish to find out about the different types of therapy
  • Murphy, D. (2017) (Ed.). Counselling Psychology: A textbook for study and practice 

School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

Contact us