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Person-centered therapy was developed by Carl Rogers. This type of therapy diverged from the traditional views of the therapist as an expert and moved instead toward a non-directive approach that embodied the theory of actualizing tendency. The theory of actualizing tendency says humans have the potential to discover the realization of their own personal abilities. The foundation of this method of therapy is derived from the belief that every human being strives to find their own fulfillment and the fulfillment of his or her own potential. Carl R. Rogers stated that, "Individuals have within themselves vast resources for self-understanding and for altering their self-concepts, basic attitudes, and self-directed behaviour; these resources can be tapped if a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided" (from Carl R. Rogers. Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980, p.115-117).
Rogerian psychology, also known as person-centered therapy, is based on the theories of Carl Rogers. Rogers believed that all people are essentially good and want to achieve mental health. He theorized that each person is motivated by an actualizing tendency, a force that drives us to reach our maximum potential, physically, spiritually and emotionally. This is the underlying force behind all of our actions and reactions, and cannot be denied. Rogers theorized that when people suppress this natural actualizing tendency, they realize emotional pain and suffering, and never grow to their fullest potential. But because each of us has this natural tendency to achieve mental health and are capable of it, our inherent behavior is to choose actions and behaviors that will result in growth and emotional well-being.
Person-centered therapy relies on the client to be the catalyst for their own healing. Rogers believed in the power of each of us to heal ourselves. By discovering our own capabilities we are able to find solutions to problems that plague us. In person centered therapy, the therapist acts as a model for communication, but does not provide answers for the client. The therapists’ role is to provide guidance and structure, so that the client can discover the solutions within themselves, using the techniques and strategies taught by the therapist. The therapist provides unconditional acceptance and support to the client so that they can comfortably and confidently move forward and inward on their journey of self-discovery.
Rogers identified six key factors that stimulate growth within an individual. He suggested that when these conditions are met, the person will gravitate toward a constructive fulfillment of potential. According to Rogerian theory, the six factors necessary for growth are:
1. Therapist-Client Psychological Contact: there must be a distinct and recognizable relationship between the therapist and the client and it must be validated by both parties.
2. Client Incongruence, or Vulnerability: a client is vulnerable to fears and anxieties that keep them from leaving a relationship or situation and that there is clear evidence of incongruence between what a client is aware of and the actual experience.
3. Therapist Congruence, or Genuineness: it is evident that the therapist is invested in the relationship with the client for the purpose of healing. The therapist is genuinely interested in their recovery and can access their own experiences as an aid in the recovery process.
4. Therapist Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR): there is an element that supercedes all others, and that is the element of unconditional acceptance. By providing a platform of openness and acceptance, a client can begin to dispel their skewed perceptions of themselves that they gathered from others.
5. Therapist Empathic understanding: a client feels genuine empathy from the therapist with regard to their internal construct and perception. This feeling of empathy helps reinforce the feeling of unconditional love.
6. Client Perception: the perception of unconditional positive regard and complete empathic acceptance and understanding is perceived by the client, if even only minimally.
Last updated: 05-14-2013
Person-Centered Therapy (Rogerian Therapy) Articles