Understanding The Benefits Of Client-Centered Therapy

Updated June 17, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team

Client-centered therapy is a highly specialized form of therapy that is non-directive in nature and based in unconditional positive regard for the client. In the 1940s, psychologist Carl Rogers developed this person-centered approach with the idea that people are inherently motivated to achieve a positive psychological state. You may think that therapy should naturally be centered around the person receiving it, but this is not necessarily always the case. In this article, we will explore what exactly entails client-centered therapy and how it benefits both the therapist and the client. 

What is client-centered therapy?

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Client-centered therapy is grounded in the idea that the client is the expert in their life and should lead the direction of their treatment. This type of therapy goes by several names, including person-centered, Rogerian therapy, and non-directive. It is designed to be focused in empathy with the therapist taking a non-judgmental perspective, even more so than with other forms of therapy. Being non-directive, the client is in charge of where the conversation goes and even keeping the sessions moving forward. The therapist has nothing to do with steering the conversation, so it’s a completely talk-focused process that will help you get out what you want to talk about rather than what a therapist thinks is important.

Another important aspect is that it focuses on unconditional positive regard. That means that the therapist must be willing and able to encourage the client at all times. No matter what the client (that’s you) says, the therapist accepts and supports them. If you feel supported every step of the way, you will have a better chance of succeeding in the therapy, which is crucial for the entire process.

In practicing unbiased and affirmative regard, the therapist models healthy behavior and helps their client to also practice positivity in therapy.  Finally, they must also be empathetic and willing to help the client understand themselves. Through kind reflection, a therapist can better understand the thoughts and feelings that their client is experiencing and guide them in planning their path in improving their mental health and general wellbeing. This open environment encourages growth in self-awareness and direction and creates a safe and comfortable zone to discuss anything needed.

Self-concept and client-centered therapy

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Another core tenet in person-centered therapy is known as self-concept. This essentially is how person defines who they are in all honesty. When Carl Rogers was designing his person-centered approach to therapy, he believed for therapy to be effective they must be completely honest with themselves, and that the therapist was there to help guide the client in reaching this place. This is where self-concept becomes important. According to Rogers, the concept of self can be conceived as a triangle involving the following:

Perceived Self – How a person sees self and how others see them.

Real Self – Who a person really is. 

Ideal Self – How or who a person wants to be. 

The ideal self is the base of the triangle that supports the perceived and real self, which are external elements of a person’s self-concept. To Rogers, the ideal self is the core in which all parts of a person’s identify, or self is built. 

Self-concept requires you to understand how you view the world around you and how you view yourself. Your self-concept is how you see yourself and how you see others, and it’s also about how you interact with those who are part of the world around you. Having a healthy self-concept can help support you in life’s difficult moments and encourage growth and development despite perceived failures. 

If your self-concept is negative, you may have some distorted thinking patterns that can complicate your ability to function with ease. It can be difficult to get an accurate and realistic self-concept, which is precisely why a therapist is present in person-centered therapy. For someone who has difficulty with self-concept, talking with a mental health professional who specializes in this type of therapy can help you improve your self-concept. They will help you better understand yourself and those around, thus helping you change the perception of yourself to the authentic and healthy version you truly are. 

Does client-centered therapy work?

Several studies show these features can work. For example, research shows that genuineness, empathetic understanding, and unconditional positive regard are beneficial attributes in therapy. Positive outcomes of client-centered therapy include improved health and well-being, work environment, cost-effectiveness, and client-therapist relationships. However, some studies have shown that using these skills is not enough to get the most benefits or the longest-term improvement for clients and patients. Furthermore, some people feel overwhelmed by the unstructured environment through which they are asked to be the director in their own treatment. 

As with forms of therapy, your individual experience with client-centered therapy will be different than another person. Some clients may have great results, and some have moderate results. Each person is unique, and you may not know if this is effective until you participate in a few sessions. Know that during person-centered therapy, your therapist will affirm your feelings and expressions with a spirit of empathy and unconditional positive regard. Eventually, you may find that you can work through all distortions of self with positivity and feel increased comfortability. Ultimately, a person-centered therapist will set up a positive, supportive environment for you, their client, giving you the freedom to direct the flow of the conversation, and help you unbury and resolve distorted images of self and other.

Getting online therapy

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Want to talk to someone solely focused on helping you?

If you are considered meeting with a counselor who specializes in person-centered therapy, there are several avenues you can pursue. You can talk with your healthcare provider who can refer you to a qualified professional, ask friends or family, or look to an online therapy platform. Online therapy may be a newer method, but is a format that is supported by research to be just as effective as in-person with the added benefits of cost-effectiveness and convenience. Online therapy allows you to get all of the benefits that go along with traditional in-person therapy but in the comfort of your own home. 

Like that available at MyTherapist, professional help will make a difference for you and anything that you might be experiencing. Whether you are managing depression, anger problems, addiction, loss, or anything in between, you can get help from an online therapist. You also do not have to worry about the next time you have to go out of town (or when you want to go on vacation). You can take your computer or other internet-enabled devices with you and still have the same great service and quality you need from your therapy session. If you feel that client-centered therapy is the approach that will help you most, be sure to choose a therapist who understands and uses this affirmative type of talk therapy. When you are ready, reach for a therapist to help you on the road to self-discovery and healthy mental growth. 

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources. Support is available 24/7.

Takeaway

Client-centered therapy helps patients learn more about their ability to promote the future, By working with the natural desire within your body to succeed and continue to improve, you’ll be able to get those results under the supportive guidance of a licensed professional. Not only that, but you’ll be able to stop feeling less than ideal. With the help of a therapist, you will learn to develop strategies to confront problems you are facing and find a solution that fits your individualized self-concept.  With the help of friends and family, you may find even more positive benefits.

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