Person Centered Psychotherapy

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Person centred psychotherapy was developed by Carl Rogers. He referred to it as counselling rather than psychotherapy. He also believed that the relationship between the client and the therapist is not a patient-doctor relationship in which the patient passively submits to something that is done to him/her by the healer. On the contrary, it should be a person-to-person relationship in which the therapists talks with the client. By using the word "client" instead of "patient," Rogers wanted to indicate that the client is not sick in any organic sense.

Core concepts



Rogers thought there were three selves in us: the self-concept, the real self, and the ideal self. The self-concept is the way a person sees him- or herself. The ideal self is who one would like to be or ought to be. The real self is who one actually is. Congruence is the amount of agreement between the self-concept, the real self and the ideal self. The more congruence, the more psychological health there is within the client. If a person's idea of who she/he is bears a great similarity to what she/he wants to be, that person will be relatively self-accepting. It's the aim of Person Centred Counselling to increase the client's congruence.

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Unconditional positive regard

To create an atmosphere of psychological safety within the counseling relationship, Rogers believed the therapist should have unconditional positive regard for the client – that is, not judge the client's character. If the client feels that his/her character is being evaluated, he/she will put on a false front or perhaps leave therapy altogether. Low self-regard, or low congruence, is the result of the client's having been judged in the past. Parents, teachers, and other authority figures often act as if the child has no intrinsic value as a person unless he/she behaves the way they say he/she ought to behave. Thus, their regard is conditional. The Person-Centered therapist gives unconditional positive regard as a partial antidote for the client's earlier experiences.

Empathetic understanding

The person-centred therapist should sense the client's world as if it were her/his own. However, the therapist must sense the client's emotions without getting bound up in them. Two processes foster empathetic understanding: reflection and clarification. Reflection occurs when the therapist repeats fragments of what the client has said with little change, conveying to the client a nonjudgmental understanding of his/her statements. Clarification occurs when the therapist abstracts the core or the essence of a set of remarks by the client.


Rogers took the approach that every individual has the resources for personal development and growth and that it is the role of the counsellor to develop favourable conditions for the natural phenomenon of personal development to occur. He often saw personal development as the process of a person becoming more fully themselves.


Bruno, Frank J. (1977). Client-Centered Counseling: Becoming a Person. In Human Adjustment and Personal Growth: Seven Pathways, pp. 362-370. John Wiley & Sons.

Rogers, Carl. On Becoming a Person. ISBN 039575531X

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Person-Centered Psychotherapy".

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