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Client-Centered Therapy Why did Carl Rogers call his approach to therapy “client centered”?

Client-Centered Therapy Why did Carl Rogers call his approach to therapy “client centered”?

Carl Rogers, the founder of client-centered (or person-centered) therapy, took pieces of the neo-Freudians’ views and revised them into a radically different approach to therapy. According to Rogers, the goal of therapy is to help people to become fully functioning, to open them up to all of their experiences and to all of themselves. Such inner awareness is a form of insight, but for Rogers, insight into current feelings was more important than insight into unconscious wishes with roots in the distant past. Rogers called his approach to Understanding Psychology, Ninth Edition, by Charles G. Morris and Albert A. Maisto. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.therapy client centered because he placed the responsibility for change on the person with the problem. Rogers believed that people’s defensive- ness, anxiety, and other signs of discomfort stem from their experiences of conditional positive regard. They have learned that love and accep- tance are contingent on conforming to what other people want them to be. By contrast, the cardinal rule in person-centered therapy is for the thera- pist to express unconditional positive regard—that is, to show true acceptance of clients no matter what they may say or do (Bozarth, 2007). Rogers felt that this was a crucial first step toward clients’ self-acceptance.

Rogerian therapists try to understand things from the clients’ point of view. They are emphati- cally nondirective. They do not suggest reasons for a client’s feelings or how they might better handle a difficult situation. Instead, they try to reflect clients’ statements, sometimes asking questions or

hinting at feelings that clients have not articulated. Rogers felt that when therapists provide an atmosphere of openness and genuine respect, clients can find themselves, as portrayed in the following session.

Client: I guess I do have problems at school . . . . You see, I’m chairman of the Sci- ence Department, so you can imagine what kind of a department it is.

Therapist: You sort of feel that if you’re in something that it can’t be too good. Is that . . .

Client: Well, it’s not that I . . . It’s just that I’m . . . I don’t think that I could run it. Therapist: You don’t have any confidence in yourself? Client: No confidence, no confidence in myself. I never had any confidence in

myself. I—like I told you—like when even when I was a kid I didn’t feel I was capable and I always wanted to get back with the intellectual group.

Therapist: This has been a long-term thing, then. It’s gone on a long time. Client: Yeah, the feeling is—even though I know it isn’t, it’s the feeling that I have

that—that I haven’t got it, that—that—that—people will find out that I’m dumb or—or . . .

Therapist: Masquerade. Client: Superficial, I’m just superficial. There’s nothing below the surface. Just

superficial generalities, that … Therapist: There’s nothing really deep and meaningful to you (Hersher, 1970,

pp. 29–32).

Rogers wanted to discover those processes in client-centered therapy that were associated with positive results. Rogers’s interest in the process of therapy resulted in important and lasting contributions to the field; research has shown that a therapist’s emphasis on empathy, warmth, and understanding increase success, no matter what therapeutic approach is used (Bike, Norcross, & Schatz, 2009; Kirschenbaum & Jourdan, 2005).

Gestalt Therapy How is Gestalt therapy different from psychoanalysis?

Gestalt therapy is largely an outgrowth of the work of Frederick (Fritz) Perls at the Esalen Institute in California. By emphasizing the present and encouraging face-to-face confrontations, Gestalt therapy attempts to help people become more

Carl Rogers (far right) leading a group ther- apy session. Rogers was the founder of client-centered therapy.

Gestalt therapy An insight therapy that emphasizes the wholeness of the personality and attempts to reawaken people to their emotions and sensations in the present.

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