Person-centered therapy (PCT) is also known as person-centered psychotherapy, person-centered counseling, client-centered therapy and Rogerian psychotherapy. PCT is a form of talk-psychotherapy developed by psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s. The goal of PCT is to provide clients with an opportunity to develop a sense of self where they can realize how their attitudes, feelings and behavior are being negatively affected.
Although this technique has been criticized by behaviorists for lacking structure and by psychoanalysts for actually providing a conditional relationship, it has proven to be an effective and popular treatment.
History and influences
Person-centered therapy, now considered a founding work in the humanistic school of psychotherapies, began formally with Carl Rogers. "Rogerian" psychotherapy is identified as one of the major school groups, along with psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychoanalysis (most famously Sigmund Freud), classical Adlerian psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and existential therapy (such as that pioneered by Rollo May).
Rogers affirmed individual personal experience as the basis and standard for living and therapeutic effect. Rogers identified six conditions which are needed to produce personality changes in clients: relationship, vulnerability to anxiety (on the part of the client), genuineness (the therapist is truly himself or herself and incorporates some self-disclosure), the client's perception of the therapist's genuineness, the therapist's unconditional positive regard for the client, and accurate empathy. This emphasis contrasts with the dispassionate position which may be intended in other therapies, particularly the more extreme behavioral therapies. Living in the present rather than the past or future, with organismic trust, naturalistic faith in your own thoughts and the accuracy in your feelings, and a responsible acknowledgment of your freedom, with a view toward participating fully in our world, contributing to other peoples' lives, are hallmarks of Roger's Person-centered therapy. Rogers also claims that the therapeutic process is essentially the accomplishments made by the client. The client having already progressed further along in their growth and maturation development, only progresses further with the aid of a psychologically favored environment.
The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
Rogers (1957; 1959) stated that there are six necessary and sufficient conditions required for therapeutic change:
- Therapist–client psychological contact: a relationship between client and therapist must exist, and it must be a relationship in which each person's perception of the other is important.
- Client incongruence: that incongruence exists between the client's experience and awareness.
- Therapist congruence, or genuineness: the therapist is congruent within the therapeutic relationship. The therapist is deeply involved him or herself — they are not "acting" — and they can draw on their own experiences (self-disclosure) to facilitate the relationship.
- Therapist unconditional positive regard (UPR): the therapist accepts the client unconditionally, without judgment, disapproval or approval. This facilitates increased self-regard in the client, as they can begin to become aware of experiences in which their view of self-worth was distorted by others.
- Therapist empathic understanding: the therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference. Accurate empathy on the part of the therapist helps the client believe the therapist's unconditional love for them.
- Client perception: that the client perceives, to at least a minimal degree, the therapist's UPR and empathic understanding.
Three of these conditions have become known as the 'Core Conditions' 3, 4 and 5 (above).
Rogers asserted that the most important factor in successful therapy is the relational climate created by the therapist's attitude to their client. He specified three interrelated core conditions:
- Congruence - the willingness to transparently relate to clients without hiding behind a professional or personal facade.
- Unconditional positive regard - the therapist offers an acceptance and prizing for their client for who he or she is without conveying disapproving feelings, actions or characteristics and demonstrating a willingness to attentively listen without interruption, judgement or giving advice.
- Empathy - the therapist communicates their desire to understand and appreciate their clients perspective.
Rogers believed that a therapist who embodies these three critical and reflexive attitudes will help liberate their client to more confidently express their true feelings without fear of judgement. To achieve this, the client-centered therapist carefully avoids directly challenging their client's way of communicating themselves in the session in order to enable a deeper exploration of the issues most intimate to them and free from external referencing. Rogers was not prescriptive in telling his clients what to do, but believed that the answers to the patients' questions were within the patient and not the therapist. Accordingly the therapists' role was to create a facilitative, empathic environment wherein the patient could discover the answers for him or herself. Reference: Rogers, Lyon, Tausch. On Becoming an Effective Teacher, Routledge 2013. p. 23.
- Cepeda, Lisa M.; Davenport, Donna S. (2006). "Person-Centered Therapy and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: An Integration of Present and Future Awareness". Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training (Educational Publishing Foundation) 43 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1037/0033-3126.96.36.199.
- Prochaska, J. O., & Norcross, J. C. (2007). Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Analysis, Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA: Thompson Brooks/Cole.
- Cooper, M., Watson, J. C., & Hoeldampf, D. (2010). Person-centered and experiential therapies work: A review of the research on counseling, psychotherapy and related practices. Ross-on-Wye, UK: PCCS Books.
- Ward, E., King, M., Lloyd, M., Bower, P., Sibbald, B., Farrelly, S., et al. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of non-directive counseling, cognitive-behavior therapy, and usual general practitioner care for patients with depression. I: Clinical effectiveness. British Medical Journal, 321, 1383-1388.
- Bower, P., Byford, S., Sibbald, B., Ward, E., King, M., Lloyd, R., et al. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of non-directive counseling, cognitive-behavior therapy, and usual general practitioner care for patients with depression. II: Cost effectiveness. British Medical Journal, 321, 1389-1392.
- Shechtman, Z., Pastor, R., 2005. Cognitive-behavioral and humanistic group treatment for children with learning disabilities: A comparison of outcomes and process. Journal of Counseling Psychology 52, 322-336.
- Prochaska, J.O & Norcross, J.C. 2007. Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Analysis. Thompson Books/Cole:New York, p.138
- Prochaska, J.O & Norcross, J.C. 2007. Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Analysis. Thompson Books/Cole:New York, p.3
- Prochaska, J.O & Norcross, J.C. 2007. Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Analysis. Thompson Books/Cole:New York, p. 142-143
- Rogers, Carl (1951). "Client-Centered Therapy" Cambridge Massachusetts: The Riverside Press.
- "Person-centered therapy" on the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders website
- Arnold, Kyle. (2014). Behind the Mirror: Reflective Listening and its Tain in the Work of Carl Rogers. The Humanistic Psychologist, 42:4 354-369.
- Bruno, Frank J. (1977). Client-Centered Counseling: Becoming a Person. In Human Adjustment and Personal Growth: Seven Pathways, pp. 362–370. John Wiley & Sons.
- Cooper, M., O'Hara, M, Schmid, P., and Wyatt, G. (2007). The Handbook of person-centered psychotherapy and counseling. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Rogers, Carl (1961). On Becoming a Person ISBN 0-395-75531-X
- Rogers, C. (1957) ‘The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change’, Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21 (2): 95-103
- Rogers, Carl. (1959). A Theory of Therapy, Personality and Interpersonal Relationships as Developed in the Client-centered Framework. In (ed.) S. Koch, Psychology: A Study of a Science. Vol. 3: Formulations of the Person and the Social Context. New York: McGraw Hill.
- Rogers, Carl (1980). A Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
- Poyrazli, S. (2003, March). Validity of Rogerian Therapy in Turkish Culture: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education & Development, 42(1), 107-115. Retrieved October 7, 2008, from PsycINFO database.
- Prochaska, J.O & Norcross, J.C. 2007. Systems of Psychotherapy: A Trans-theoretical Analysis. Thompson Books/Cole:New York.
- Rogers, Carl (1951). "Client-Centered Therapy" Cambridge Massachusetts: The Riverside Press.
- Rogers, Carl, Lyon, HC, Tausch, R. (2013). On Becoming an Effective Teacher – Person-centered teaching, Psychology, Philosophy, and Dialogues with Carl R. Rogers and Harold Lyon. London: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-81698-4: http://www.routledge.com/9780415816984/
- World Association for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling
- The Person-Centered Website
- An Introduction to Person-Centred Counselling at CounsellingResource.com
- The Carl Rogers Bibliography Online
- Person-Centered Bibliography
- Person-Centered Bibliography in French
- Association for Person Centered Therapy Scotland
- The Association for the Development of the Person Centered Approach
- Network of the European Associations for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling
- The British Association for the Person Centered Approach