Person-Centred Approach to Therapy: An Introduction


One of the transformational developments in the history of talking therapy, the person-centred approach (PCA) proposed by Carl Rogers, has become firmly established at the heart of modern counselling. It has profoundly impacted coaching, teaching and education, healthcare and medicine, mediation and conflict resolution, and even international reconciliation. 

The first therapeutic method in the humanistic school marked a huge departure from the 'medical' mode of doctor-patient. The three 'core conditions' of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence are frequently over-simplified, taken out of context, and mistaught. PCA is not simply a set of techniques – it is a fundamental philosophy about individuals and the world as a whole.

In this course, we explore the philosophy underlying PCA, Rogers' detailed analysis of what is necessary for therapy to work, and add a modern understanding of emotions and their communication.

Programme details

Course starts: 20th Jan 2025

Week 1: Introducing the three 'core' conditions

Week 2: Carl Rogers and the revolutionary thinking that led to PCA

Week 3: The concept of 'self' and congruence

Week 4: The Humanists' Philosophy of Mind

Week 5: The six 'necessary and sufficient' conditions

Week 6: The study of interactions and the nature of 'empathy' (incl 'Gloria' and other examples)

Week 7: Rogers' model of human development

Week 8: Rogers' 19 propositions

Week 9: Encounter Groups

Week 10: PCA and World Work

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend at least 80% of the classes on the course and pass your final assignment. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.


Description Costs
Course Fee £535.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Graham Wilson

My PhD in behavioural science led to an initial career in organisation and leadership development, however, for the last decade I’ve taught psychology, counselling, and photography at Oxford and elsewhere. A BACP Registered Counsellor, I recently retired as Coordinator of HE Counselling Courses at Guildford College. As a Ronin Institute Research Scholar, I investigate applications of imagery to provoke community-level behavioural change. In Oxfordshire, I lead government-funded therapeutic photography programmes. 

Course aims

To inspire an interest in one of the most profound shifts in therapeutic thinking in the 20th century.

Course objectives:

  • To provide a summary of the context, significance, and key components of the person-centred approach.
  • To enable participants to appreciate the profound philosophical model underlying PCA and how it differs so radically from most other therapeutic traditions.
  • For students to appreciate the wider implications of the humanistic school, and PCA especially, for addressing large scale issues.

Teaching methods

Using a virtual learning environment (Canvas), background notes will be provided shortly before each session so that you can read up on the week's theme in advance if you wish.  I try to make sessions interactive and dynamic - you won't find me hiding behind a lectern.  Classroom activities will be varied, involve a range of discussions and creative tasks, in both the full group and small groups.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • appreciate the historical context in which the humanistic, and especially the person-centred, approaches evolved;
  • have a clear understanding of the theories of the mind and of human emotional development proposed by Rogers;
  • relate Rogers' approach to modern understanding of emotional communication;
  • consider the relevance of Rogerian theory to larger scale interventions;
  • have experimented with the use of the person-centred approach in counselling, teaching, and large-group problem solving.

Assessment methods

At the end of the course, participants will be encouraged to prepare a 1500 word summary of those aspects of PCA that have most inspired them.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work the required standard.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an enrolment form (Word) or enrolment form (Pdf).

Level and demands

The Department's Weekly Classes are taught at FHEQ Level 4, i.e. first year undergraduate level, and you will be expected to engage in a significant amount of private study in preparation for the classes. This may take the form, for instance, of reading and analysing set texts, responding to questions or tasks, or preparing work to present in class.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.