25 June 2015

Using a Person First Approach in Teaching and Training

Our unique Person First approach that aligns itself with the tenet of client-centered therapy, most widely associated with the theories and research of Carl Rogers (especially 1961: 'On becoming a Person). Equally a Person First approach has roots within the ideas of Paul Tournier (especially 1940: 'The Healing of Persons'). A Person First approach is also informed by a variety of influences including Transpersonal Psychology, Taoist and Zen Buddhist philosophy and linguistic and semiotic theory.  The approach was developed by our sister company Person First Solutions which provides a range of clinical services for health providers and charities.

The approach differs from the ethos of person-first language or terminology in that it does not aspire to a disability model, rather an holistic paradigm in which personhood is seen as a given: a definite known that should be validated as intrinsic, irrespective of race, culture, disability, et cetera.

The Person First approach outlines six broad objectives in order to regain ownership of self and reclaim personhood: Reparation, Reconciliation, Realignment, Reclamation/ Reformation, Recognition, and finally Resilience/ Recovery. Within this approach a variety of therapeutic tools and modalities are used within a framework in which no single paradigm takes precedence.

What does this mean in practice?  Working without a diagnosis and connecting to the Person First.  That's not to to say we should completely disregard diagnostics but to recognise that there are merely a signpost to the solution without making it a lens through which we regard a person.  The hard work that is undertaken by a client with the help of a clinician within the therapeutic relationship is the key to recovery.  It means being radically optimistic that the person who may need help can eventually rely upon their own resilience to recover.

We encourage consideration of these dynamics in every mental health courses we teach and it seems to work.  We also try and have as much fun as possible as well.    People learn more when laughing and being entertained - they're more likely to remember what you said. In the words of Patch Adams, when speaking about similarly about the role of a doctor:

"The role of a clown and a physician are the same - it's to elevate the possible and to relieve suffering."

If you would like to learn more about Training Innovations and Person First Solutions, or if you think you might be interested in learning whilst having fun, then please visit our website:, contact us at or call our course enquiry line: 07843046558.