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Discuss Person-Centered Theory

Discuss Person-Centered Theory

he person-centered theory continues to find meaningful application in personality studies. Developed by Carl Rogers, this theory emphasizes on adopting an empathetic and nondirective approach that motivates and empowers clients in the therapeutic process. Numerous primary and secondary sources describe some aspects of the patient-centered theory in detail including the conditions necessary for the success of the therapeutic relationship when using the approach. Peer-reviewed, empirical and theoretical studies have also examined the application and utility of person-centered theory in substance abuse settings and addiction counseling, which is the chosen area of specialization. This paper identifies the rationale for choosing the person-centered theory, dissects some primary and secondary sources dedicated to the theory, and appraises some peer-reviewed articles dealing with the utility of person-centered approach in substance abuse counseling, identifying the topics most relevant to the final project.

Theory Selected and Rationale for Selection

The selected theory is Carl Roger’s person-centered theory. The rationale for having a great interest in this theory stems from various factors. Rogers had a strong belief in human potential and the positive nature of human beings. The first reason for selecting this theory comes from the fundamental role it places on the therapeutic relationship. As per this theory, the therapist acts as a compassionate facilitator, taking a nonjudgmental approach while listening empathetically and acknowledging the experience of the client. Since the therapist under Roger’s person-centered approach is there to support and encourage the client in the therapeutic process without interfering, it is my belief that the theory helps to promote self-discovery in clients. Through unconditional positive regard, therapists also convey their feelings of confidence, understanding, and trust, all of which are instrumental in encouraging their clients to make autonomous and informed decisions.

Primary and Secondary Sources

A primary source identified is one by the theorist Carl Rogers (1957) entitled “The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change”. Its complete citation is:

Rogers, C. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology , 21, 95-103.

In this article, Rogers dissects some conditions that he believes if present, can lead to constructive personality change when using the client-centered approach. All the conditions identified by the theorist will find direct application in the final project. These sufficient and necessary conditions as identified by Rogers (1957) include two persons being in psychological contact, the first being the client who is in a state of incongruence, anxious, and vulnerable, and the second is the therapist who is congruent and integrated in the relationship. Another necessary condition is that for positive change to occur, Rogers (1957) maintains that the therapist should experience unconditional positive regard towards the client. The therapist then experiences an empathetic understanding of the internal frame of reference of the client and strives to communicate the experience to the client.

A secondary source that covers Roger’s theory in detail is an article published by Chaudhary, Vaish, Sudarsanan, & Bharti (2014) which assess the utility of Roger’s person-centered approach in contemporary practice of psychotherapy. The complete citation for this secondary source is:

Chaudhary, S., Vaish, S., Sudarsanan, S., & Bharti, S. (2014). Psychotherapy Client Centered Way. Delhi Psychiatry Journal , 17 (1), 27-34.

The content most relevant for the final project from this secondary source is that pertaining to the concept of “Person of Tomorrow” as envisioned by Carl Rogers. This person of tomorrow is the client who can tap his/her inner potential in order to overcome challenges faced and lead a fulfilling life. According to Chaudhary et al. (2014), Carl Rogers’ “Person of Tomorrow” is the one who taps vast inner resources for self-directed behavior and self-understanding. This person is harmonious, peaceful, free, wise, and is able to deal with whatever changes that may come creatively. Rather than relying on institutions, science, or technology, the “Person of Tomorrow” in Carl Rogers’ lens relies upon inner guidance and personal authority. The client is also caring, open to others, capable of intimacy, and open to inner experience. With these qualities and attributes, the client can be able to make tremendous progress in resolving the underlying issues facing them using the support of the therapist. As Chaudhary et al. (2014) point out, “if the therapist is congruent, empathetic, prizes, and cares for the client, a climate will be created that facilitates the journey” (p. 27).

Peer-Reviewed Articles

The person-centered approach can find direct utility in the field of addiction counseling, which is the specialty that I intend to pursue. A number of scholarly, peer-reviewed articles have examined the utility of Rogers’ person-centered theory in addiction and substance abuse counseling. One such article is by Westwood (2014) entitled “Natural Allies: Twelve-Step Recovery and the Person-Centered Approach?” Its complete citation is:

Westwood, D. (2014). Natural allies: Twelve-step recovery and the person-centered approach? The Person Centered Journal , 21 (1), 5-20.

Even though they have their roots in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 12-step recovery programs have gained widespread appeal and utility in other drug addiction settings including in people addicted with cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other drugs. Westwood (2014) contends that although developed independently, both 12-step recovery programs and the person-centered approach developed by Carl Rogers encourage change in adults while simultaneously promoting psychological development. In both approaches, developing an awareness of needs and feelings as well as sharing from direct personal experiences are important to both practices. Rogers also emphasized the utility of his theory in the treatment of hospitalized alcoholics in his publication “On Becoming a Person”. He cited contemporary empirical research indicating that person-centered groups had a higher efficacy in treating hospitalized alcoholics as compared to groups that received treatment from an impersonal learning theory approach. Rogers arrived at the conclusion that an empathic connection between client and counselor coupled with authentic responses by the therapist, contributes to effective treatment for alcoholics.

The content that is most important to my final project from the article by Westwood (2014) is the subject pertaining to the underlying principles that contribute to the success of the therapeutic encounters when using the person-centered approach. These principles, as identified in the article by Westwood (2014), include seeking to be authentic in relationships, being open to the unique attitudes, beliefs, and feelings of others, trusting in one’s own experience, and developing a strong, internal locus of control. Other therapeutic qualities that can find great utility in the final project as identified by the article is extending unconditional positive regard, which the therapist can extend through being genuine, authentically congruent, and openly accepting of the client.

Another peer-reviewed articles that underscores the effectiveness of Rogers’ person-centered theory in addictions settings is one by Kolind & Hesse (2017) entitled “Patient-centered care – Perhaps the future of substance abuse treatment”. For this source, its full citation is:

Kolind, T., & Hesse, M. (2017). Patient‐centred care—perhaps the future of substance abuse treatment. Addiction , 112 (3), 465-466.

This article highlights the findings of a study that sought to investigate the effectiveness of the patient-centered approach by Carl Rogers in reducing methadone use among addicts hospitalized to an inpatient mental health facility. These findings can indeed be beneficial for the final project. Kolind & Hesse (2017) found out that as compared to the conventional treatment model used in the inpatient facility, patient-centered therapy modeled on the tenets of Rogers’ theory increased retention rates, decreased clients’ methadone abuse, and significantly improved perceived quality of life.

The other peer-reviewed article highlighting the utility of Rogers’ patient-centered theory in substance abuse settings is one by Arnett (2016) entitled “User-involvement/oriented Care Models and Substance Use Disorder Care: Review of the Literature”. Its full citation is:

Arnett, K. D. (2016). User-involvement/oriented care models and substance use disorder care: Review of the literature. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy , 7 (2), 280-287.

The user-involvement/oriented care models examined by the researcher all utilize the principles of person-centered theory postulated by Karl Rogers. Besides being person-centered and demonstrating a person/patient participation approach, the care models used in among patients with substance use disorder apply shared decision-making. Findings from this study demonstrated that care models grounded on Rogers’ patient-centered theory had immense potential of reducing substance use disorder. From this peer-reviewed article by Arnett (2016), the content most relevant to the final project is the content relating to patient/person participation. Patient/person participating in the broader context includes involving users in agency or institutional decisions, hosting community meetings, forums, and other opportunities for clients to offer input.


Patient-centered theory advocated by Carl Rogers is a powerful theory that continues to guide practitioners in various fields. The emphasis of the theory on the power of human potential makes it quite an appealing theory. The secondary sources consulted all attest to the effective of Rogers’ theory in therapeutic setting. The peer-reviewed articles similarly attest to the effectiveness of the patient-centered theory in the substance abuse setting. Besides being useful for the final project, the insights gained from the consulted materials will also find direct application in my practice setting. Through serving as compassionate facilitators, taking a nonjudgmental approach while listening empathetically and acknowledging the experience of the client, therapists using the patient-centered therapy can ultimately empower clients and lead to successful resolution of problems encountered.

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