Client-Centered Therapy by Rogers: Techniques & Definition

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Client-centered therapy is one of the major fields of humanistic psychotherapy developed by psychotherapist Carl Rogers. Learn more about client-centered therapy, Carl Rogers, and test your knowledge with a quiz.


Client-centered therapy, which is also known as person-centered, non-directive, or Rogerian therapy, is a counseling approach that requires the client to take an active role in his or her treatment with the therapist being nondirective and supportive. In client-centered therapy, the client determines the course and direction of treatment, while the therapist clarifies the client's responses to promote self-understanding.

The goals of client-centered therapy are increased self-esteem and openness to experience. Client-centered therapists work to help clients lead full lives of self-understanding and reduce defensiveness, guilt, and insecurity. As well as have more positive and comfortable relationships with others, and an increased capacity to experience and express their feelings.

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers, Creator of Client-Centered Therapy
Client-Centered Therapist Carl Rogers

Client-centered therapy was developed in the 1930s by the American psychologist Carl Rogers. Rogers was a humanistic psychologist who believed that how we live in the here-and-now and our current perceptions are more important than the past. He also believed close personal relationships with a supportive environment of warmth, genuineness, and understanding, are key for therapeutic change. Rogers used the term 'client' instead of 'patient' to refer to the equal nature of the relationship between the therapist and client in client-centered therapy. Rogers believed people are capable of self-healing and personal growth, which leads to self-actualization, an important concept in client-centered therapy. Self-actualization refers to the tendency of all human beings to move forward, grow, and reach their full potential. Rogers believed self-actualization is hindered by negative, unhealthy attitudes about the self.

Client-Centered Therapy

Client-centered therapy differs from other forms of therapy because client-centered therapy does not focus on therapeutic techniques. What's most important in client-centered therapy is the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client. Client-centered therapy was not intended for a specific age group or subpopulation, but has been used to treat a broad range of people. It has been applied for use with people suffering from depression, anxiety, alcohol disorders, cognitive dysfunction, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.

When people enter client-centered therapy, they are in a state of incongruence, meaning there is a difference between how they see themselves and reality. Having an accurate self-concept (the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs people have about themselves) is key to client-centered therapy. For example, a person may consider himself helpful to others but often puts his own needs before the needs of others. It is the hope of client-centered therapists to help clients reach a state of congruence or a match between self-concept and reality. Which just means for people to see themselves as they actually are. For example, if a person considers herself a good chef, she would not doubt herself when it comes to cooking meals. In client-centered therapy, the therapist does not attempt to change the client's thinking in any way. The therapist merely facilitates self-actualization by providing a comfortable environment for clients to freely engage in focused, in-depth self-exploration.

In client-centered therapy, the therapist's attitude is more important than the therapist's skills. According to client-centered therapy, there are three therapist attitudes that determine the level of success of therapy: (1) genuineness, (2) unconditional positive regard, and (3) empathy.


client-centered therapy genuineness

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