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What Are the Advantages of Person-Centered Therapy?

Person-centered therapy is a form of talking therapy. Learn more about this technique, goals, examples and benefits, here at HealthyPlace.

Person-centered therapy – also known as client-centered therapy – is a form of talking therapy that was developed by humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers, in the 1940s and 50s. It was founded on the belief that all people are inherently good, and that every person has a desire to fulfill their potential – known as an "actualizing tendency." Person-centered therapy has many benefits for people experiencing a range of emotional and mental health conditions, so let's look at the advantages of Rogers' approach.

What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

Person-centered therapy deliberately refers to the "person" or "client" rather than "patient." Rogers believed that the term "patient" implied that anybody seeking this form of therapy was sick and needed curing. On the contrary, person-centered therapy is about finding assistance for life's difficulties, controlling your destiny and overcoming challenges.

According to the U.K. Counselling Directory, person-centered therapy is

"A humanistic approach that deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously, rather than how a counselor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas."

Person-centered therapy is self-directed rather than directive, meaning the onus is on you to enact change. Despite this, the approach still recognizes that clients need some guidance from their therapists and are bound to be influenced in subtle ways. Most modern therapists will work from the core of this approach while adjusting the framework slightly for each individual they treat.

What Are the Benefits of Person-Centered Therapy?

Person-centered therapy can be used to treat common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Since the approach was founded, multiple large-scale studies have emphasized the benefits of person-centered techniques in people with mild-moderate (and, in some cases, severe) symptoms. However, it is unclear whether or not this approach can lead to lasting change.

Reported benefits of person-centered therapy include:

  • Overcome depression, anxiety, grief or stress
  • Find a balance between the idealized self and the actual self
  • Strengthen trust in the self and others
  • Achieve better self-awareness
  • Reduce feelings of guilt and insecurity
  • Seek and sustain healthier relationships
  • Healthier self-expression
  • Boost self-esteem and self-reliance.

Person-Centered Therapy Techniques and Goals

The purpose of person-centered therapy is for the therapist to help you "self-actualize.” In other words, you will grow to believe that you can reach your full potential. This approach focuses on personal growth and facilitates healthy relationships. It can strengthen your sense of identity and help you connect better with others.

The person-centered approach is fully supportive. However, the therapist is not considered "the expert" in this scenario, unlike in traditional psychoanalysis. In person-centered treatment, the client is an expert on themselves, and the counselor is just an assistant. Your therapist will help you understand and explore yourself and your troubles; their job is to create a psychological environment that feels physically and emotionally safe so that you can be open to the experience of therapy.

Four primary person-centered therapy techniques are used to achieve this:

  • Congruence – this means the therapist must be real, honest, open and genuine during your interactions. Roger believed that a professional front could hinder the treatment process for the client.
  • Empathy - your counselor will strive to understand your experiences and empathize with them. He or she will not be objective in this way, and they may respond with genuine feeling and emotion.
  • Unconditional positive regard – in person-centered therapy, the counselor must always be non-judgemental, no matter what comes up.
  • Importance of self-concept – the way you see yourself may not line up with reality. Person-centered therapy teaches you to re-examine and realign your self-concept.

If you think you could benefit from person-centered therapy, you can search this directory to find a therapist near you.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, September 18). What Are the Advantages of Person-Centered Therapy?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/what-are-the-advantages-of-person-centered-therapy

Last Updated: October 15, 2019
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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