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What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 13, 2021

Person-centered therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people take responsibility for their lives and solve problems on their own. Person-centered therapy was founded by Carl Rogers in the early 1940s. A person-centered therapist creates a therapy environment to best fit their unique client. 

Understanding Person-Centered Therapy

Person-centered therapy is also known as client-centered psychotherapy and Rogerian therapy. This is a type of psychotherapy that consists of the client's self-discovery and understanding of themselves. 

Therapists and clients work together to empathetically understand and accept your frame of mind. This sets you up for personality growth. This type of therapy helps you see yourself more clearly and be in touch with your true self. 

Rogers said each client has value and should be viewed as a person of unconditional self-worth no matter their condition, behavior, or feelings. Person-centered therapists understand that what is important to them may be different from what is important and valuable to the client. 

Rogers focused on the importance of not wanting to change the client but letting them progress at their own speed. He believed that clients have the last say in how they live their lives and what works for them. 

Why Is Person-Centered Therapy Important?

Person-centered therapy is important because it helps you resolve conflicts, reorganize your values and approaches to life, and teaches you to interpret your thoughts and feelings. This is meant to help you change behavior that you believe is interfering with your mental health. 

This type of therapy focuses on therapeutic relationships and helps you understand what deeply motivates you. It’s also designed to help you see your potential. 

Person-centered therapy is designed to have a mutual agreement on goals and tasks between therapist and client. A person-centered therapist can match their therapeutic style to your specific needs and preferences. 

This type of therapy ties into the approach of mindfulness. The goal is to help you become aware of your current experiences and accept them. Rogers's main point of his theory was to increase openness to experience and help his clients' live fully in the moment. 

Impact of Person-Centered Therapy on Your Mental Health

Person-centered therapy has a great impact on your mental health. This type of therapy lets you tell your story at your own pace. It’s designed for you to create a strong, healthy relationship with your therapist. Your therapist listens to you and doesn’t point out directions or give solutions. 

The reason this therapy refers to people as clients instead of patients was started by Rogers who wanted a more equal relationship between client and therapist. 

Person-centered therapy helps you learn empathy and unconditional positive regard for yourself and others. Your therapist is meant to support, guide, and structure your sessions to help you discover your own solution to the problems you’re facing.

Another important part of person-centered therapy is the focus on mindfulness and self-compassion. These two aspects are designed to help you feel better about yourself and the people around you. This therapy sets you up to form healthy, positive relationships with people and yourself.

Six Elements of Person-Centered Therapy

Rogers believed that people are intricate and one-of-a-kind. He believed that one type of treatment wouldn’t fit everyone. However, he did come up with six core conditions for counseling. These elements include: 

  1. The therapist and client must have psychological contact to discuss inner feelings. 
  2. The client should feel like their actions don’t match their feelings and are emotionally upset.
  3. The therapist is involved in the relationship and genuinely aware of their own feelings. 
  4. The therapist should have unconditional positive feelings towards the client and not judge them but value them. 
  5. The therapist should have an empathetic understanding of their client’s internal frame of reference. 
  6. The client should feel like the therapist has unconditional positive regard for them and their difficulties. 

Person-centered therapy is successful when it’s built on trust. You should be able to trust your therapist to tell them your innermost feelings. Your therapist also needs to trust themselves to give proper treatment and conversation.

Find the Right Therapist

If you are experiencing behavior or feelings that you don’t feel are aligned with who you are, you can turn to person-centered therapy. Finding a therapist that specializes in person-centered practice may be a little challenging. Being person-centered is more of an approach than a specialty. However, you can always ask your doctor for recommendations.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: “APA Dictionary of Psychology: client-centered therapy,” “Person-Centered Therapy Over Time.”

GoodTherapy: “Person-Centered Therapy (Rogerian Therapy)

Harvard Health Publishing: “Client-centered therapy.”

International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews: “The Theory and Rhetoric of Person-Centered Therapy From the View of Carl Rogers.”

Journal of Humanistic Psychology: “Person-Centered Approach, Positive Psychology, and Relational Helping: Building Bridges.”

Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy: “Am I a Person-Centered Therapist?”

son-Centered Therapist?”

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