More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Person-centered psychotherapy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Person-Centered Therapy (PCT), also known as Client-centered therapy, was developed by the humanist psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s. He referred to it as counseling rather than psychotherapy. The basic elements of Carl Rogers' new way of therapy was to have a more personal relationship with the patient, to help the patient reach a state of realization that they can help themselves. He did this by pushing the patient towards growth, great stress on the immediate situation rather than the past. This way the person is able to use the therapy as a way to reach a better sense of self, rather than living in an irrational world.

Person-centered therapy is used to help a person achieve personal growth and or come to terms with a specific event or problem they are having. PCT is based on the principle of talking therapy and is a non-directive approach. The therapist encourages the patient to express their feelings and does not suggest how the person might wish to change, but by listening and then mirroring back what the patient reveals to them, helps them to explore and understand their feelings for themselves. The patient is then able to decide what kind of changes they would like to make and can achieve personal growth. Although this technique has been criticized by some for its lack of structure and set method it has proved to be a hugely effective and popular treatment. PCT is predominantly used by psychologists and counselors in psychotherapy.

History & Influences
Person-centered therapy, now considered a founding work in the humanistic school of psychotherapies, began formally with Carl Rogers. "Rogerian" psychotherapy is often identified as one of the major school groups, along with psychoanalytic (most famously Sigmund Freud), depth therapy which bridges from psychoanalytic through archetypal, mythographical, dream, and unconscious material to existentialists like Rollo May, and the increasingly popular Cognitive-Behavioral school. Others acknowledge Rogers' broad influence on approach, while naming a humanistic or humanistic-existentialist school group; there is large debate over what constitute major schools and cross-influences with more tangential candidates such as feminist, Gestalt, British school, self psychology, interpersonal, family systems, integrative, systemic and communicative, with several historical influences seeding them such as object-relations.

Rogers affirmed individual personal experience as the basis and standard for living and therapeutic effect. Three attitudinal requirements in an effective therapist, in his view, include empathy with the patient's emotions and perspective, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard for the patient. Both active and passive aspects of empathy in the therapist have been identified. This emphasis contrasts with the dispassionate position which may be intended in other therapies. Living in the present rather than the past or future, with organismic trust, naturalistic faith in your own thoughts and the accuracy in your feelings, and a responsible acknowledgment of your freedom, with a view toward participating fully in our world, contributing to other peoples' lives, are hallmarks of Roger's Person-centered therapy.

Core concepts
"The more the therapist is himself or herself in the relationship, putting up no professional front or personal facade, the greater is the likelihood that the client will change and grow in a constructive manner. This means that the therapist is openly being the feelings and attitudes that are flowing within at the moment. The term "transparent" catches the flavor of this condition: the therapist makes himself or herself transparent to the client; the client can see right through what the therapist is in the relationship; the client experiences no holding back on the part of the therapist. As for the therapist, what he or she is experiencing is available to awareness, can be lived in the relationship, and can be communicated, if appropriate. Thus, there is a close matching, or congruence, between what is being experienced at the gut level, what is present in awareness, and what is expressed to the client." (from Carl R. Rogers, Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980, p.115-116)

Unconditional positive regard
"When the therapist is experiencing a positive, acceptant attitude toward whatever the client is at that moment, therapeutic movement or change is more likely to occur. The therapist is willing for the client to be whatever immediate feeling is going on--confusion, resentment, fear, anger, courage, love, or pride. Such caring on the part of the therapist is nonpossessive. The therapist prizes the client in a total rather than a conditional way." (from Carl R. Rogers, Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980, p.115-116)

Empathic Understanding
"...the therapist senses accurately the feelings and personal meanings that the client is experiencing and communicates this understanding to the client. When functioning best, the therapist is so much inside the private world of the other that he or she can clarify not only the meanings of which the client is aware but even those just below the level of awareness. This kind of sensitive, active listening is exceedingly rare in our lives. We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know." (from Carl R. Rogers, Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980, p.115-116)

Two processes foster empathic 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.

The Actualizing Tendency
Rogers took the approach that every individual has the resources for personal development and growth and that it is the role of the counselor to provide the favorable conditions (which for Rogers were congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard) for the natural phenomenon of personal development to occur. He often saw personal development as the process of a person becoming more fully themselves


oh... I thought that Rogers really started practicing his approach around 1920s... I was pretty sure he had already the attitude. He wrote books about it... will check:coffee:



My books are not where I am now. I will, in time, find back where I got that information. I think it was when Rogers was working at "Rochester" (from memory), with social workers. I am not always sure that Wikipedia is a 100% reliable source of information.


David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
My books are not where I am now. I will, in time, find back where I got that information. I think it was when Rogers was working at "Rochester" (from memory), with social workers. I am not always sure that Wikipedia is a 100% reliable source of information.

You're right - Wikipedia is not a definitive resource.

In 1920, Rogers would have been only 18 but it is possible, even likely, that he began formulating his ideas and putting them into practice during that decade.


The Online Encyclopedia Brittanica:

Rogers attended the University of Wisconsin, but his interest in psychology and psychiatry originated while he was a student at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. After two years he left the seminary and took his M.A. (1928) and his Ph.D. (1931) from Columbia University?s Teachers College. While completing his doctoral work, he engaged in child study at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Rochester, N.Y., becoming the agency?s director in 1930.

From 1935 to 1940 he lectured at the University of Rochester and wrote The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child (1939), based on his experience in working with troubled children. In 1940 he became professor of clinical psychology at Ohio State University, where he wrote Counseling and Psychotherapy (1942). In it Rogers suggested that the client, by establishing a relationship with an understanding, accepting therapist, can resolve difficulties and gain the insight necessary to restructure his life.

While a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago (1945?57), Rogers helped to establish a counseling centre connected with the university and there conducted studies to determine the effectiveness of his methods. His findings and theories appeared in Client-Centered Therapy (1951) and Psychotherapy and Personality Change (1954). He taught psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1957?63), during which time he wrote one of his best-known books, On Becoming a Person (1961). In 1963 he moved to La Jolla, Calif., where he helped to found and became a resident fellow of the Center for Studies of the Person. His later books include Carl Rogers on Personal Power (1977) and Freedom to Learn for the 80?s (1983).
Bolding mine, thank you very much. If he spent the majority of the 1920s in a theological seminary, one would expect him to be doing a fair amount of pastoral counseling. It would seem to me that this could be where the seeds were planted, but it took a few decades for those seeds to germinate and sprout.

I hope there were no bar bets on this piece of trivia. Every objective reference I looked at said basically the same thing as this article, along with the cite references David provided, but this one is the shortest; I just woke up and I'm lazy. Can well all be friends again?


Hi Fiver,

That sounds right.

Thanks for reminding me. O memory!!!

Rogers had very religious parents. They were very strict and never mixed up with others, but he was lucky to have brothers and sisters (I think they were 3 of them) and live in the country side.

He became interested in Agriculture when he was a teen. At around 12 years of age, he did his potatoe experiement in a cave and this is when he understood that the environment and light were necessary conditions probably like Love to remain alive and continue growing "towards light" (positively).

If you don't know the story of the potatoe then I will have to find it for you.
It is in his book On Becoming a Person.

Ok, enough for today, thanks for the input.

I'll be back.

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