How Does Client-Centered Therapy Work?
In order for an individual to experience total self-actualization the therapist must express complete acceptance of the patient. Roger’s found that this was best achieved through the method of „reflection“, in which the therapist continually restates what the „patient“ has said in an attempt to show complete acceptance and to allow the patient to recognize any negative feelings that they may be feeling.
Two of the key elements of client-centered therapy are that it:
- Is non-directive. Therapists allow clients to lead the discussion and do not try to steer the client in a particular direction.
- Emphasizes unconditional positive regard. Therapists show complete acceptance and support for their clients.
According to Carl Rogers, a client-centered therapist needs three key qualities:
The therapist needs to share his or her feelings honestly. By modeling this behavior, the therapist can help teach the client to also develop this important skill.
Unconditional Positive Regard:
The therapist must accept the client for who they are and display support and care no matter what the client is facing or experiencing. Rogers believed that people often develop problems because they are used to only receiving conditional support; acceptance that is only offered if the person conforms to certain expectations. By creating a climate of unconditional positive regard, the client feels able to express his or her emotions without fear of rejection.
The therapist needs to be reflective, acting as a mirror of the client’s feelings, thoughts. The goal of this is to allow the client to gain a clearer understanding of their own inner thought, perceptions and emotions.
By exhibiting these three characteristics, therapists can help clients grow psychologically, become more self-aware and change their behavior via self-direction. In this type of environment, a client feels safe and free from judgment. Rogers believed that this type of atmosphere allows clients to develop a healthier view of the world and a less distorted view of themselves.