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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

person-centered therapy | Renaissance Recovery

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Person-centered therapy is a non-directive form of psychotherapy also known as Rogerian therapy or client-centered therapy. 

In this psychotherapeutic approach, you become an equal partner in the therapy process. Rather than offering suggestions and solutions or passing judgment, the therapist instead remains non-directive. 

If you don’t like the idea of consulting a mental health professional, answering questions about your issues, and then listening to advice, you may find the more humanistic approach of person-centered therapy more engaging and beneficial.

What is Person-Centered Therapy?

Person-centered therapy is a form of psychotherapy (the clinical descriptor for talk therapy) in which the therapist supports and encourages the client. While the therapist guides the therapeutic process, they do so without interrupting the client’s journey to self-discovery and without directly interfering with the process. This is known as a non-directive approach or non-authoritative approach. 

If you engage with Rogerian therapy, you will have the opportunity to take a more assertive role in discussions, brokering your own solutions rather than relying on the suggestions of a therapist. The therapist will not attempt to steer the conversation in other directions. 

Rather than acting as an authority figure dispensing wisdom, person-centered therapists act instead as compassionate facilitators. This is based on the concept that you know what is best for you. The therapist helps you to initiate positive change on your terms.

Person-centered therapy can be beneficial for: 

  • Improving self-confidence
  • Strengthening the sense of identity
  • Building healthier interpersonal relationships
  • Learning how to trust your own decisions

Client-centered therapy can be delivered in isolation or in combination with other types of psychotherapy. This approach can be effective for the treatment of: 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Stress
  • Abuse
  • Trauma
  • Other mental health conditions

You can engage with person-centered therapy in both individual and group settings. 

Since person-centered therapy requires you to put in much of the work yourself, the approach is most effective if you are highly motivated to effect change. 

You will do most of the talking in this form of talk therapy. The therapist may restate your words. If the therapist misunderstood what you meant, you may self-edit for the sake of clarification. This may involve a back-and-forth process until you have expressed what you are thinking and feeling with precision. Expect spells of silence so you can allow your thoughts to penetrate. 

Key Concepts

Person-centered therapy stemmed from the work of Carl Rogers, an American psychologist and one of the founders of the humanistic approach. 

Rogers believed that everyone is unique and that everyone has a valid view of the world and an ability to manage that view which should be trusted. Rogers held that every individual has the power to find the best solutions for themselves and to make appropriate changes to achieve those solutions. 

The humanistic approach of person-centered therapy was a departure from the traditional role of a therapist – therapist as a facilitator rather than an expert and leader. 

Rogers identified six key concepts for person-centered therapy to help stimulate personal growth within an individual. These are the concepts crucial for growth per Rogerian theory:

  1. Psychological contact between therapist and client: This condition states that for the client to achieve meaningful personal change, a relationship must be established between client and therapist. This relationship is characterized by the following five concepts.
  2. Client incongruence (vulnerability): This concept describes the gap between the self-image and actual experience of the client. Oftentimes, the client is not aware of this incongruence.
  3. Therapist congruence (genuineness): The therapist must be genuine, congruent, and self-aware.
  4. Therapist UPR (unconditional positive regard): The therapist should accept the experiences of the client – whether positive or negative – without preconditions or judgment. This allows the client to freely share any experience free from the fear of being judged.
  5. Therapist empathy: Instead of becoming emotionally involved, the therapist shows an empathic understanding of the experiences outlined by the client.
  6. Client perception: The client should perceive the empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard demonstrated by the therapist.

How about the concrete goals of this form of psychotherapy, then? 

Goals

Person-centered therapy goals are centered on three of the above principles reflecting the therapist’s attitude to the client. It is vital that: 

  1. The therapist is always congruent with the client
  2. The therapist gives the client unconditional positive regard
  3. The therapist demonstrates empathic understanding to the client

1) The therapist is always congruent with the client

Congruence is otherwise known as genuineness.  

According to Rogers, congruence is the most vital attribute in counseling. A psychodynamic therapist will operate as a blank screen, revealing little of their personality, while a person-centered therapist allows the client to see them as they really are. 

Without the façade erected by a psychoanalyst, the person-centered therapist is authentic and congruent. 

2) The therapist gives the client unconditional positive regard

Rogers believed that for someone to grow and fulfill their potential, they must be valued as themselves. 

A person-centered therapist helps encourage this by demonstrating a deep, genuine caring for the client. Even if the therapist does not approve of all the client’s actions, they nevertheless approve of the client, accepting them as they really are.

An effective person-centered counselor will always show a positive attitude to the client, regardless of the client’s actions. 

3) The therapist demonstrates empathic understanding to the client

Empathy is the ability of the therapist to understand how the client is feeling. By restating the client’s words, the therapist shows that they understand what the client is feeling. 

The goals of person-centered therapy are: 

  • Encourage personal development and growth
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Furthering of openness to experience
  • Mitigating or eliminating feelings of distress
  • Enhancing clients’ understanding of themselves

 Who Created Person-Centered Therapy?

This approach to therapy was first developed by Carl Rogers in the 1940s. Widely considered one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research, Carl Rogers person-centered therapy diverges from the traditional model. 

The non-directive and empathic approach outlined above helps to motivate and empower the client throughout the therapeutic process. 

Based on the premise that every individual strives to fulfill their own potential and has the capacity to achieve this, person-centered therapy had a significant impact on the field of psychotherapy.

Person-Centered Therapy Techniques

Rogerian psychotherapy is characterized by an almost complete absence of techniques. According to the Rogerian standpoint, the use of techniques can degrade the therapeutic relationship. 

One of the only and most essential practices of person-centered therapy is active listening. Also of paramount importance is the quality of the therapeutic relationship. This is the critical variable, not the words or actions of the therapist. 

If any techniques are employed, they can be summarized as follows: 

  • Listening
  • Accepting without judgment
  • Understanding
  • Sharing

Therapy at Renaissance Recovery

Here at Renaissance Recovery, we provide therapy for addictions, mental health disorders, and co-occurring disorders. 

Our gender-specific outpatient programs are designed to provide a distraction-free environment for therapy and recovery. 

For those who require more support and structure than a traditional outpatient program, we also offer IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs), allowing you to get the most intensive treatment outside of residential rehab. 

The therapeutic process here at TDRC draws from evidence-based therapies, such as:  

When you complete your treatment here at Renaissance Recovery, you can step down to a less rigid form of therapy or transition directly into sober living

Get started today by reaching out to the friendly team at 866.330.9449.

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