Client Centered Therapy is a form of talk therapy developed by the psychologist Carl Rogers during the 1940s and the 50s. At present, it’s one of the most popular approaches in psychotherapy. It’s a non-directive therapy which is also referred to as Person Centered Therapy. Another name given to the therapy is Rogerian therapy, after the name of the psychologist.
Carl Rogers was a humanist, who was considered one of the highly influential psychologists of the 20th century. As a psychologist, he believed that people are capable of self-healing and personal growth. Also, he believed that close relationships of a person with a supportive environment of understanding, genuineness and warmth was vital for therapeutic change to take effect.
The humanist thinker inside him let him believe that people have actualizing tendency, meaning, everyone has a desire to be the best they can be, but it’s often affected by the negative and unhealthy attitudes about the self.
Rogers initially called the technique as non-directive therapy, but he realized that therapists are guiding the clients even if it’s just in subtle ways, and the clients too are always awaiting some sort of direction and guidance. Hence, Rogers named the therapy as Client-Centered Therapy.
Rogers was deliberate in the use of the term client rather than patient. Patient generally means the individual is mentally ill and seeking a cure from the therapist. The use of the word client meant the individual might just be seeking assistance in self-control and dealing with certain difficult issues in their life. Self-direction is the key to this therapy.
Rogers, like Sigmund Freud, believed that therapeutic relationship could help the client get insights into his own life. However, Rogers believed that the therapist should remain non-directive, contrary to Freud who focused on providing interpretations of the unconscious mind of the client. Rogers believed that the client was the one who should be in control and the therapist should not provide any sort of judgments.
Therapists and mental health professionals who utilize the technique believe that that therapeutic environment should be lack of judgment, empathy and soothing for the client.
The client has complete command of the direction, and the therapist does not attempt to steer the discussion in any way.
Focus on Unconditional Positive Regard
The client is shown complete support and acceptance.
There are three Core Conditions required in order to successfully hold client-centered therapy.
It refers to the therapist’s ability to be genuine and authentic with the client, and is considered one of the most important concepts in Roger’s therapeutic counseling. It doesn’t mean that the therapist should go on and discuss his personal problems with the client; rather, it means that the therapist is honest in letting the client know his feelings regarding their experiences.
Unconditional Positive Regard
According to Rogers,
“Unconditional positive regard means that when the therapist is experiencing a positive, acceptant attitude toward whatever the client is at that moment, therapeutic movement or change is more likely. It involves the therapist’s willingness for the client to be whatever feeling is going on at that moment – confusion, resentment, fear, anger, courage, love, or pride…The therapist prizes the client in a total rather than a conditional way.”
Rogers believed that many people develop psychological problems because of the lack of support and acceptance. And, even when they are accepted, it’s often conditional. By providing unconditional positive regard, the therapist creates a suitable environment for the client to freely express herself without any fear of rejection.
The goal of therapeutic counseling is to help the client gain insight into her own emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. For this, the therapist needs to act as a mirror image and reciprocate the exact feelings and thoughts depicted by the client.
These three characteristics create a safe environment for the client, where he can grow psychologically and develop a healthier view towards themselves and the world. Self-direction is the key here, and these qualities help the client to progress further with self-direction.
How effective is it?
Most psychologists agree that the three characteristics pointed out by Rogers are all highly important and beneficial. However, several studies have also come to conclusion that these three factors alone aren’t enough to maintain long lasting changes in the client.