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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Aubin, LCSW

Person-Centered Therapy

There are literally thousands of therapeutic approaches out there. I have been trained in many different approaches but many clients are curious to know what my main approach is. Although I consider myself an eclectic therapist (aka a therapist who uses a variety of approaches), if I had to identify the number 1 approach I use as a therapist, it would hands-down be Person-Centered aka "Rogerian" therapy. So what is Person-Center/"Rogerian" therapy, anyway? Let's break it down.

How Person-Centered Therapy came to be

In the 1940's, an American psychologist named Carl Rogers developed a type of therapy called Person-Centered Therapy. This therapy was very different from the popular therapy of that time (psychoanalysis) because Person-Centered Therapy is mostly non-directive and allows the client to lead due to the belief that the client is the expert of their own experience (in psychoanalysis, the therapist is seen as the expert on the client's life). Rogers focused on developing a healing therapeutic relationship with clients. According to Rogers, a healing relationship includes these components: Empathy, Unconditional Positive Regard, Congruence, and Genuineness.

Empathy is a deeper way for the therapist to understand what the client's experience is truly like for them. This means that the therapist is accepting and non-judgmental of the client.

Unconditional positive regard basically means that the therapist accepts the client exactly as they are. Even if the therapist disagrees with the client, the therapist always accepts the client and seeks to understand their point of view.

Congruence (genuineness) means that the therapist shows up as their true and authentic self. The therapist is not just an objective blank slate but a human being with a personality, feelings, and thoughts. The therapist does not hide this from the client since this modeling of congruence can be beneficial for the client to experience.

Here's a brief overview of Person-Centered Therapy:

What to expect in Person-Centered therapy

In Person-Centered therapy, the client does most of the talking. The therapist is not the "expert" on the client's life, the therapist is responsible for helping build a strong therapeutic alliance with the client. The therapist acts as a gentle guide and asks clarifying questions and summarizes what the client said so as to better understand the client's experience. In this type of therapy, the more motivated you are as a client, the more you will get out of therapy.

Are there proven benefits to Person-Centered therapy?

Yes! Person-Centered therapy can help people with a variety of mental health challenges to develop a stronger sense of self-identity, self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth. People also find that Person-Centered therapy can help resolve emotional pain and can restore emotional balance.

There have been many studies that focused on Person-Centered therapy. Consistent with person-centered theory, research shows that the largest contribution to therapeutic outcomes comes from clients. Here are a few studies that. show the effectiveness of Person-Centered therapy:

What Person-Centered Therapy looks like in my sessions with clients

I show up as my full authentic imperfect human-being self and I see my clients as the experts of their own life. I view my role as ultimately helping people become their own therapists. I see myself as a gentle guide and I truly believe my clients have the ability to heal themselves if given enough support and tools. I do not tell clients what to do, I help them dive deeper into their inner knowing and find the answer(s) for themselves. I listen intently to my clients' experiences and try to understand what it feels like to be them. I am always rooting for them and deeply care about them. If you are looking for a directive therapist who will act as the expert, assign you homework, and tell you how to fix your life, you will most likely find my approach too non-directive. If you are looking for a gentle, non-judgmental guide to be there with you empathetically as you deepen your self-understanding, I am your gal!

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