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Person-Centered Approach by Carl Rogers

Understanding Counselling Theories & Approaches: PCT

Person-centered therapy, also known as Rogerian therapy, originated from the work of the American psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers believed that everyone is unique and has the power to find the best solutions for themselves, and that their ability to manage their own world should be trusted.

In person-centered therapy, the therapist's role is to facilitate the client's self-discovery, self-acceptance, and positive growth. The therapist achieves this by providing a safe and supportive environment and demonstrating empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness towards the client. During sessions, the therapist will refrain from actively directing the conversation, as well as from judging or interpreting what you say. However, they may restate your words in order to better comprehend your thoughts and emotions and to aid you in doing the same. When the therapist repeats your own words back to you, you may feel inclined to revise and clarify your meaning. This process may occur multiple times until you feel satisfied that you have accurately conveyed your thoughts and emotions. There may be moments of silence to allow your thoughts to sink in. This client-focused process facilitates your self-discovery, self-acceptance, and a provides a means toward healing and positive growth.

Initially, Rogers referred to his approach as non-directive therapy because the therapist follows the client's lead. The therapist does not direct the course of therapy, nor does the therapist use interpretative methods or reinforcement schedules to derive solutions for the patient. Instead, the therapist helps the client to uncover their own solutions. This approach was a challenge to the then-dominant therapist-directed approaches of psychoanalysis and behaviorism.

In his 1951 book, "Client-Centered Therapy," Rogers replaced the term non-directive with client-centered, refining his ideas. Non-directive therapy referred to what the therapist aspired not to do, which was to challenge the client's agency over their own feelings and perceptions. In contrast, client-centered referred to what the therapist aimed to do, which was to support the client's agency and go with their direction in understanding what hurts and what is needed.

Rogers later applied his ideas derived from client-centered therapy in other contexts, such as education, conflict resolution, and encounter groups. The term person-centered came into wider use to describe the broader applicability of his approach beyond traditional psychotherapy, as the term client was not fitting for many of these other contexts.

In summary, person-centered therapy is a client-focused approach that emphasizes the client's subjective experience and the therapist's role as a facilitator. It promotes self-discovery, self-acceptance, and positive growth through empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness. The evolution of the approach from non-directive to client-centered to person-centered reflects the refinement and wider applicability of Rogers' ideas.


  1. Rogers, C. R. (1951). Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications, and theory. Houghton Mifflin.

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