If you’re motivated toward personal growth and prefer nondirective professional support, person-centered therapy may be for you.
Person-centered therapy is a unique type of humanistic talk therapy based on the assumption that everyone has a natural inclination to fulfill their potential using their strengths and motivation.
Person-centered therapy is ideal if you thrive when getting support and encouragement but prefer not to receive specific advice and directives from a therapist.
Therapists who practice this approach believe that you can overcome your own challenges, so they strive to become your ally and create the right conditions during every therapy session.
Person-centered therapy, also known as Rogerian therapy, is a therapeutical approach where the client and therapist act as allies in the healing journey.
This therapy is based on humanistic psychology, one of the five main approaches in psychotherapy.
Rogerian therapy is based on the belief that you have all of the tools you need within to evolve into a healthier and more fulfilled person.
The approach was developed in the 1940s by Carl Rogers, considered one of the founders of psychotherapy.
One of Rogers’ core beliefs was that everyone’s capable of guiding themselves to an improved state of being. He believed this was possible without the specific guidance of an expert.
In fact, person-centered therapy challenges the typical relationship between therapists and clients, which most other psychotherapy approaches find key to the process.
Typically, psychotherapists direct and structure each therapy session. During or after these sessions, they also offer advice or suggest ways to change your behavior.
A person-centered therapist neither directs the session nor offers specific advice. Instead, they focus on creating a supportive setting that allows you to explore your personality, talk through complex feelings, and arrive at your own conclusions and solutions.
Person-centered therapy focuses more on nurturing broad concepts such as self-actualization and personal growth. It doesn’t specifically position itself as a treatment for mental health conditions.
Client-centered therapy aims to encourage general improvements in how you feel about your life and how you relate to others.
You may want to consider Rogerian therapy if:
- you feel stuck and have a desire for growth and change
- you feel empty or lost but aren’t sure why exactly
- you want to develop an improved sense of responsibility or accountability
- you feel that your attitude or perspectives could improve
- you feel you want and can be a better person in one or more aspects
Research indicates that client-centered therapy may also be effective for symptoms of:
Person-centered therapy aims to encourage a self-directed approach to mental health. The idea is to empower you to reflect on and overcome your challenges. Depending on what challenges you want to work on, you and your therapist will set additional specific goals.
General goals of therapy can include:
- focusing on you as a whole person and not just your challenges or symptoms
- helping you explore your attitudes, perceptions, and reactions to different situations
- creating an empathetic alliance between you and your therapist so you become equal partners
Based on these goals, you’ll be in charge of each session and decide what to talk about.
The therapist’s goals include creating a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment for you to take charge.
Rogers identified three principle-based strategies for client-centered therapy:
1. Unconditional positive regard
Your therapist will assume a nonjudgmental and accepting attitude at all times.
This attitude encourages you to talk openly about your challenges and feelings without fear of being criticized or rejected.
This idea is similar to the one of unconditional love. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you decide to approach your challenges. Your therapist will act in an accepting and loving way, without judgment or criticism of your own solutions.
One part of unconditional positive regard is reflection. This occurs when your therapist reflects back their understanding of what you said to them. This helps you clarify the meaning of your statement and validates the truth that you find in it.
Research from 2018 shows that positive regard has a favorable impact on therapy results.
Congruence means that the therapist will act and behave true to who they are as a person. This means they will strive to be as genuine as possible in your presence.
You can think of congruence in therapy as your therapist being open and transparent without putting up walls to prevent you from knowing who they are.
Congruence creates a stronger and more relatable connection between you and your therapist. It also strengthens trust and a feeling of freedom because your therapist doesn’t have any other motivation other than to connect with you.
Person-centered therapists will aim to show you compassion and put themselves in your shoes. In other words, person-centered therapists believe that empathy is key, and therapists try to practice it during therapeutic sessions.
The goal of practicing empathy is to ensure you feel valued and appreciated for who you are, which can help you boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.
Like most approaches to psychotherapy, person-centered therapy stresses active listening. This means that the therapist will listen to you without interruption. This allows you to lead yourself to key conclusions or answers that you feel may help you.
Person-centered therapy is a unique type of talk therapy developed by Carl Rogers. In this approach, therapists don’t guide the sessions, offer advice, or judge what you decide to share.
Rogerian therapy is based on the assumption that everyone has a natural tendency to grow and improve. In this sense, a client’s motivation will lead them to change without the active direction of a therapist.
When a therapist honors the principles of client-centered therapy, they create a nurturing and safe environment where you can freely explore your thoughts, feelings, and goals.
Empathy, congruence, and positive regard are the three main techniques used to create the necessary conditions for clients to advance in their healing journey.