Rogers observed that human beings possess vast resources for self-understanding and self-direction. Rogerian hypothesis insists that individuals are most able to access their own creative resources when provided a relationship offered by a genuine, congruent therapist who is experiencing unconditional positive regard and warm acceptance and is empathically receptive to the client's own perceived realities.
All human beings are fundamental "ends" in themselves, inherently deserving dignity and respect without qualification. Client-centred therapists trust their clients as sovereign human beings who can and should be the architects of their own lives. Client-centred therapy unseats clinicians as experts on our lives, recognizing our self-authority instead of as active agents of personal and social change.
Rogers's ethical vision of the person is expressed in scientific language by his axiomatic concept of the actualizing tendency. Rogers's theory posits that organisms are motivated to maintain and enhance themselves. This tendency is inherent in the design of all living organisms. It may be diminished and thwarted by impoverishment, trauma, and violence, but it cannot be eradicated without killing the organism. The tendency moves in the direction of increasing complexity and differentiation and applies to all life forms. The significance of this view is that people do the best they can under the circumstances they perceive and that are acting on them. In psychotherapy, Rogers was attuned to the fact that each person has a unique temperament, a unique history of experiences and learnings, and a way of using the therapeutic situation. His approach is oriented to the phenomenology of the unique person. Rogers's theory of personality is cast in terms of universally applicable constructs. His theory of therapy, by contrast, privileges the client's own story and meanings, learning histories, and cultural backgrounds. For Rogers, Congruence, the state of wholeness and integration within the person's experience, is the hallmark of psychological adjustment. Congruence is the antithesis of defensiveness and rigidity (Rogers, 1959b). It is the capacity to symbolize experiencing in conscious awareness and to integrate those experiences within our concepts of self. Besties, loving grandmas, and animals can all provide therapeutically beneficial relationships! As Rogers states, "The basic nature of human beings when functioning freely is constructive and trustworthy." He asserts that, in his work, he was consistently heartened to find that clients moved in positive, prosocial directions when provided with a climate of respect, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding.
Within the specific context of client-centred therapy, the therapist's experience of identifiable therapeutic attitudes engenders a climate of freedom and safety, which is free and untwist the actualizing tendency. Clients are free to participate in the process in the way they wish Within this accepting, authentic relationship. The active narrations, whatever is most present, are affirmed, even being silent. The client propels the process, is active and with self-healing capabilities. In concert with the therapist-provided conditions, these self-righting potentials promote positive change, leading to actively co-constructing the therapy (Bohart, 2004, p. 108).
Because both parties are unique souls, the relationship between them cannot be prescribed or predicted in advance. Their unique encounter prefaces the therapist to a person who seeks help. Interventions performed according to specific guidelines for administration and therapy practices cannot be genuinely client-centred because they apply the same treatment protocol to all clients. Conversely, client-centred therapists tend to be spontaneously responsive, corresponding to the demands of clients whenever possible. Answering questions, changing a time, or making a phone call on behalf of a client originates in the therapist's essential trust, respecting clients and their aims and goals, which willfully take place to accommodate clients' requests (Brodley, 2011a). This empowers clients to find and value their voices and sensibilities that can only succeed by obliging to a nondirective attitude informing our expressive therapeutic behaviour.
A client-centred therapist commits to an attitude of trust in the clients' inner resources for growth and self-realization despite psychological limitations, trauma, or oppressive environmental conditions. , Counsellors' absolute faith in the client's inherent growth tendency and right to self-determination expresses in therapy in a nondirective attitude, without any disempowering the client (Brodley, 1997; Raskin, 1948, 2005).
The therapist's nondirective attitude does not intend passivity or the absence of responsiveness; it does not hinder the liberty of the client-centred therapist. Representing our ethical commitment to the fair nature of the therapy, it is a moral boundary that leads our path without directing the route.
A significant point of dispute concerns the effort to view persons in diagnostic categories instead of rejecting the medical model in full (Elkins, 2016). While some person-centred practitioners accept "illness" in the approach, Sanders argues that interpreting clients' pain and suffering as "illness" results in settling pathology in the persons' mind, stigmatizing and marginalizing them, and failing to perceive and attack the social roots of problems (Sanders, 2017; Van Blarikom, 2006, 2007).
Recent sturdy designed studies point out that various models of psychotherapy are roughly equal in their effects (the Dodo bird verdict), and the impact of the therapeutic relationship is much more critical to the outcome than specific techniques, supporting the well-mannered fundamentals of the client-centred model.
Rogers' "The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change" paper insisting on the Congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference is referred to as three essential therapist-offered conditions leading to therapeutic personality change. This theoretical statement applied to all types of therapy, not just the client-centred approach, and its impact on the field cannot be exaggerated. About half of Rogers's Client-Centered Therapy (1951) was devoted to applications of client-centred therapy, with additional chapters on play therapy, group therapy, training of therapists, leadership, and administration.
Studies on hospitalized schizophrenics, hypothesizing that they would cure with the client-centred approach resulted in that the most successful patients were those who had experienced the highest degree of accurate empathy, and it is the client's judgment of the therapy relationship, rather than the therapist's one, highly equates with success or failure (Rogers et al., 1967).
Rogers's personality theory is more growth-oriented than developmental and sources in 19 fundamental propositions (1951). Proposition eight of Rogers's hypotheses about personality states that a part of the developing infant's private world, recognized as "me," "I," or "myself" in the course of interacting with the environment, builds up this concept about themselves, the environment, relating to the environment. Rogers's following suppositions are crucial to his theory of how development may proceed either soundly or in the direction of maladjustment. He assumes that very young infants are involved in "direct organismic valuing" with little or no uncertainty. Children have experiences such as "I am cold, and I don't like it," or "I like being cuddled," which may occur even though they lack descriptive words or symbols for these organismic experiences. The principle in this natural process is that the infant positively values those experiences that are perceived as self-enhancing and places a negative value on those that threaten or do not maintain or enhance the self.
This situation changes once children begin to be evaluated by others (Holdstock & Rogers, 1983). The love they receive and the symbolization of themselves as lovable children becomes dependent on behaviour. To hit or to hate a baby sibling may result in a child being told that he or she is bad and unlovable. To preserve a positive self-concept, the child may distort the experience. Rogers termed this process of introjection of external judgment and evaluation as internalizing conditions of worth.
Congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference are the three therapist-provided conditions in client-centred therapy. Arguments that "unconditional positive regard is impossible" fail to recognize that Rogers's therapeutic attitudes exist on a dynamic continuum within each therapist with each client.
In Rogers's theory, Congruence poses the most basic of the attitudinal conditions, fostering therapeutic growth. He depicts Congruence mainly as transparent communication, in which the therapist does not deny the experienced feelings, even antitherapeutic feelings, and the therapist complies to express and be open about any persistent feelings that exist in the relationship. Intermittently, expressing constant feelings enables therapists to stay in a relation of Congruence with their inner experiencing, resulting in avoiding the lure to be covered by the mask of professionalism (Rogers & Sanford, 1985, p. 1379). The other meaning of Congruence refers to the accurate symbolization of experience in the internal self-awareness of the therapist (Brodley, 2011b).
If a congruent therapist experiences unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference, and if the client perceives the therapist's attitudes, the client will respond with constructive changes in personality organization (Rogers, 1959b).
Rogers states, "To me, being congruent means that I am aware of and willing to represent the feelings I have at the moment. It is being real and authentic at the moment" (Rogers cited in Baldwin, 1987, p. 51).
Empathic understanding in client-centred therapy is an active, immediate, continuous process involving the therapist's cognitive functions, affective responses, and expressive behaviour. It is an attitude of wishing to grasp the client's expressions, meanings, and narrative. This implies openness to the client's communications, including any adverse or critical reactions, and a readiness to postpone one's own opinions, biases, and speculations. Deploying empathic understanding puts the client's expression and aims at the method's core because the therapist ensures the understanding, resulting in the client being the founder of their life and the therapy designer.
The therapist enters into a relationship with the client, hoping to experience unconditional positive regard for the client. The therapist accepts the client's thoughts, feelings, wishes, intentions, theories, and attributions about causality as unique, human, and appropriate to their current experience. Ideally, the therapist's regard for the client will not be affected by particular choices, opinions, or behaviours, even when the behaviours are immoral or objectionable. Complete, unswerving unconditionality is an ideal, yet in seeking to realize this perfect attitude, therapists find that their acceptance, respect, and appreciation for clients deepen with the growth of understanding. We are not called to justify our clients' choices or behaviour but to understand them.
Client-centred approach therapy starts promptly; the therapist tries to understand the client's world in any fashion the client wants to share it. The goal of the first interview is not to take a history or arrive at a diagnosis, determine whether the client is treatable, or establish the length of treatment. Staying with the client in moments of confusion and despair is advised; however, reassurance and advice-giving are usually not suitable since it delivers a suggestive lack of confidence in the client's approach to their life difficulties.
Because client-centred therapy is not problem-centred but person-centred, clients are not viewed as instances of diagnostic categories who come into treatment with "presenting problems."
Proponents of client-centred therapy see problems, disorders, and diagnoses as constructs that are generated by processes of social and political influence in the domains of psychiatry, pharmaceuticals, and third-party payers as much as by bona fide science.
Occasionally, clients of the mental health system may have incorporated clinical diagnoses into their self-concepts and may refer to themselves in those terms. Even though client-centred therapists do not view clients through a diagnostic lens, this self-description must be understood and accepted like any other aspect of the client's self-definition. Note that this kind of self-categorization can be an instance of an external locus of evaluation in which a naïve and uncritical client has taken a stock label and applied it to themselves. If the client describes herself as "crazy" or "psychotic," the client-centred therapist would not say, "Oh, don't be so hard on yourself. You're not crazy." Over time, the therapist puts their confidence in the therapy process to yield more self-accepting and accurate self-appraisals on the client's part rather than advising clients how to think because their thinking is obviously wrong.
While client-centred therapy is nondiagnostic, the therapists work with individuals diagnosed by others with mental illness and with people simply seeking a personal growth experience. The assumption is that the healing is generally applicable to anyone regardless of the diagnostic label, insisting on the belief that we seek to understand the person, the person's expression of self and their relation between self and distress, self and environment.
The current trend with souls diagnosed with schizophrenia focuses on social skills training, occupational therapy, and medication. Experiencing the potency of a client-centred relationship to "comply" with a medication regimen, or to exhibit "appropriate" behaviour and social skills, and to follow directives are not the aim of approach in these individuals. However, they can express their thoughts like the medications are not helping without eliciting the immediate response "But you know that you will end up back in the hospital if you stop the medication." This enables the person with authority about self and experience. If medications and programs are soothing, they can elect to use them; though forcing them in any approach lessens their deciding capability about their life course since it is paternalistic.
Importantly, client-centred therapy is open to a comprehensive array of complementary aides, and those resources' information the therapist knows about and believes to be productive and ethical will be available to clients if asked. A variety of psychotherapies, self-help groups, exercise programs and medications can be concurrently deployed if the client seeks them out. The spirit is straightforward: "You can try it and see what you think," and the ultimate authority of decision-making, whether they are life-enhancing or disempowering, or the helpfulness of experts and institutions are the clients.
Rather than seeing "therapy" as a metaphor, client-centred therapists see the word as a medical treatment. It has been said that psychotherapy is like having a discussion with a friend. That's why it is most often used in adult individual psychotherapy, where it originated. Client-centred concepts may be used in any scenario where individuals' welfare and psychological development is a primary goal, leading to expanding the client-centred label to the person-centred approach.
Randomized clinical trials generally show amounts of change equivalent to clients in non-humanistic therapies, including cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) (Elliott, 2002, pp. 71–72; Elliott & Freire, 2008).
Elliott and Freire conclude that their meta-analytic studies show strong support for person-centred and experiential therapy, even when compared to cognitive-behavioural approaches. The advantage of CBT in some studies disappears when experimenter bias is controlled for some studies in which CBT appears to have more benefits.
Safran, J. D., Kriss, A. & Foley, V. K. (2019). Psychoanalytic therapies. In D. Wedding & R. J. Corsini (Eds.), Current psychotherapies (11th ed., pp. 21-58). Boston, MA: Cengage.
Raskin, N. J., Rogers, C. R., & Witty, M. C. (2019). Client-centered therapy. In D. Wedding & R. J. Corsini (Eds.), Current psychotherapies (11th ed.) pp. 101-156. Boston, MA: Cengage.
Rogers, C. R. (2007). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 44(3), 240-248.