Carl Rogers, American Psychologist, is well know for his Person-Centered Approach. Sounds pretty great if you are the person, right?
“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet [active] listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.” – Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers Client Centered or Person Centered therapy is one of the most utilized, familiar, and empowering forms of psychotherapy we use at Summit View Counseling. However when it was being developed Rogers approach was a radical departure from the more clinical and sterile forms of therapy happening at the time.
The classic Rogerian question asked by a therapist might be something like, “but how does that make you feel?” or maybe a more reflective question such as "it sounds like you are feeling ....". Questions and statements like these can seem stereotypical or wrote however they highlight an important aspect of therapy which Carl Rogers recognized as essential to the process of positive change. This aspect of change is that people can change from being "potentially competent to [being] fully competent" (McLeod, 2015). He believed people to be " fully autonomous individuals who are capable of putting in the effort required to realize their full potential and bring about positive changes in their lives" (Ackerman, 2017). He was stepping away from the role of advice giver or director that characterized therapy up to this point. I picture patient and therapist on a tandem bicycle (because I love bicycles) the patient steering their direction and the therapist providing support and empowerment, close enough to see their direction and offer suggestion or redirection if there is risk ahead.
What makes Person Centered Therapy effective? Here are the two key elements!
It's non-directive. Therapists allow clients to lead the discussion and do not try to steer the client in a particular direction.
It emphasizes unconditional positive regard. Therapists show complete acceptance and support for their clients without casting judgment.
Rogers identified five characteristics of the fully functioning person:
1. Open to experience: both positive and negative emotions accepted. Negative feelings are not denied, but worked through (rather than resorting to ego defense mechanisms).
2. Existential living: in touch with different experiences as they occur in life, avoiding prejudging and preconceptions. Being able to live and fully appreciate the present, not always looking back to the past or forward to the future (i.e., living for the moment).
3. Trust feelings: feeling, instincts, and gut-reactions are paid attention to and trusted. People’s own decisions are the right ones, and we should trust ourselves to make the right choices.
4. Creativity: creative thinking and risk-taking are features of a person’s life. A person does not play safe all the time. This involves the ability to adjust and change and seek new experiences.
5. Fulfilled life: a person is happy and satisfied with life, and always looking for new challenges and experiences.
Person Centered Therapy is at the core of our approach to helping people make positive changes in their lives. Like Carl Rogers It is our belief that individuals have the necessary resources to make these changes within themselves. Sometimes it might just take some help from a supportive person, like a therapist, to recognize and access those resources.
If you are feeling stuck, sad, lonely, or lacking motivation to make changes contact us at Summit View Counseling we can help!
-Brody Bates, CMHC
McLeod, S. (2015). Person centered therapy. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/client-centred-therapy.html Person-centered therapy. (n.d.).
Ackerman, C. (2017). 10 Person-Centered Therapy Techniques Inspired by Carl Rogers. Retrieved from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/client-centered-therapy/ .