We know that, being mental health professionals, you are aware that there are different types of therapeutic approaches. You may have even found one you prefer over others. However, when your go-to approach looks to be lacking and you need to shift strategies, there’s no harm in exploring and learning about others — especially those under the humanistic psychotherapy type.
To get you started, allow us to introduce one approach that you may find interesting and helpful to your practice: client-centered therapy. Compared to the others, with this approach, the therapist and client are seen and considered as equals.
Haven’t encountered the aforementioned approach before? Intrigued by what it is?
Then, we encourage you to keep reading and check out the guide we’ve prepared for you below. In our guide, we’ve provided information on the following:
- The basics of client-centered therapy and its benefits
- A 101 on techniques and the appropriate time to apply them
- Answers to FAQs
- A brief on how you can utilize Carepatron for your client-therapy sessions
We’ve provided all of these for you so that, whether this is your first time encountering the term or you are simply looking for a resource to help refresh your memory, with the help of our guide, you’ll more easily be able to figure out if client-centered therapy is for you or not.
What is Client-Centered Therapy?
To begin, client-centered therapy was called non-directive counseling or therapy before it became the other names - client-centered therapy, person-centered therapy, and Rogerian therapy - we know today. Its approach differs from others because here, clients are seen as capable of finding solutions to their concerns and problems independently. The therapist’s role in this approach is akin to a friend who only listens and supports. Aside from that, they also double as a mirror of sorts, repeating the statements from the client to aid them in discovery and realization.
If you’re wondering why clients are given reins in a session, it’s because the developer of the approach, American Psychologist Carl Rogers, saw the potential in individuals and believed in their strength and desire to change for the better. As a result, it’s common practice that clients participating in client-centered therapy shouldn’t be seen as helpless in their struggle and that their input and experiences are considered important, valid, and valuable.
Before going over what usually happens during a session, it’s important to note that the therapist must call the person sharing a “client” rather than a “patient”. This reinforces the idea that the client is capable of finding the answers to their questions and even the solutions to their problems.
Let’s move on to what to expect during a session.
In the beginning, the therapist asks a client the reasons why they set the appointment. Afterward, the therapist will listen to the client's answers, repeating certain statements that the client may be stuck on or asking follow-up questions until the client has concluded. This conclusion may not necessarily be the solution to their problem but can be an understanding of a situation or acceptance of feelings. Since the client holds the reins in a session, the content of the discussion and how fast the conversation will shift topics heavily depend on the client unless circumstances require the therapist’s guidance.
Client-Centered Therapy Techniques and Examples
Since the goal of a therapist is to encourage the client to share their thoughts in mostly quiet support, before anything, they must first be able to create an environment that assures the client that they will not be judged nor silenced. To achieve this, here are techniques a therapist must use:
- Genuineness, Realness, or Congruence - They must make the client feel comfortable, which means shedding what Carl Rogers calls a“professional front or personal facade”. Transparency in feelings and attitude is essential here so the client can easily see the therapist's role in the session. By being genuine, they become the mirror described above, effortlessly matching what the client is expressing for the sake of clarity. For the client to feel a therapist’s genuineness, it’s recommended that they encourage their client to share their feelings and build a relationship with them based on trust.
- Unconditional Positive Regard - They must maintain a positive attitude towards whatever the client is talking about. By looking at the bright side when the client is expressing uplifting and draining emotions, clients are more likely to move towards acceptance of those feelings. Moreover, they’ll feel supported and cared for and that the therapist sees and accepts all they are. For the client to see the therapist’s disposition, during moments where the therapist may speak up, they may provide comforting words that show unconditional support and assurance.
- Empathic Understanding - The therapist must be able to empathize with the client. For Carl Rogers, this means “accurately sensing the feelings and personal meanings” the client is experiencing and communicating. Through the use of empathy, the therapist can go beyond the surface level of awareness and even dive deeper into understanding. To show emphatic understanding, therapists must give their clients the time and space to reflect on their thoughts, perceptions, and feelings to arrive at unique insights they may not have grasped when alone.
How are the Client-Centered Therapy Techniques Helpful?
Utilizing the techniques mentioned above, also known as conditions, are a must in every session. To properly conduct a client-centered therapy session, you must keep these in mind at all times and apply them because:
- They create a non-judgmental, inclusive, and positive environment that makes the client feel accepted and more inclined to share. Consequently, by feeling accepted by their therapist, they will eventually learn to be more accepting of themselves. They will make the client feel empowered to come up with their own insights and resolve their problems independently. But also ask for clarifications when in doubt.
- This will reduce denial coming from both the client and the practitioner. Hesitating to share or refusing to be open to seeing the client’s potential may affect their comfort and influence their decisions on dealing with a concern or even sharing it.
- This will take the focus away from the therapist and reduce the unspoken hierarchy usually associated with therapists and clients.
- These have long-lasting effects, such as a better trusting relationship between the therapist and client which will help in the long run and can even affect the client beyond the office.
When are they used?
Though the practitioner can easily decide for themselves if the techniques and approach can help them out with a particular client, we’ve also provided a list of issues and diagnoses where one might want to give client-centered therapy a try:
- Mental disorders such as personality disorders, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, psychotic disorders, mood disorders, psychological disorders
- Relationship concerns
- Substance abuse
- Stress management
- Trauma recovery
- Crisis intervention
- An abundance of negative thoughts
Though it’s a given, as a reminder, you can utilize these techniques during therapy sessions with the clients mentioned above in both group and individual settings. However, according to case studies and research, applying one or two techniques is possible when using a different therapeutic approach.
Benefits and Research
There are several benefits to including client-centered therapy in your practice and applying the required techniques. Here are some of them:
- After conducting a case study, Cain (2013) realized there’s a benefit to applying the different techniques in their approaches. He specifically thinks empathy is essential and valuable to other practitioners, no matter their theoretical orientation, because it can be considered the foundation of all theories.
- According to Corey (2017), client-centered therapy positively challenges therapists' beliefs and perspectives if the practitioner is open to it. It is because therapists are not only asked to set them aside, reflect on them, and refrain from projecting them onto the client, but they are required by this approach to listen to the clients intently and formulate a different variety of therapeutic styles, especially if their culture is different from the client.
- Client-centered therapy, or at least its techniques, helps therapists create personalized approaches to dealing with the client’s concerns. Moreover, since this is an ideal approach for clients struggling with crisis management, therapists can immediately check the person’s mental coping strategies or mental well-being by observing their body language, statements, and expression of emotions.
These are only a few of the benefits of using the techniques of client-centered therapy. Feel free to check the other sections of this guide to see how you and your client can benefit from this therapy approach.
Client-Centered Therapy App - How Can Carepatron Help?
Carepatron, the leading management software platform, can equip you with the means and tools to help you with your client-centered therapy sessions and administrative tasks. With Carepatron, you can streamline business and clinical processes so that most of your time and effort is spent building and establishing a trusting relationship with your client.
Here’s a list of the features you can access for free on our app available via desktop, iOs, and Android:
- Resources that are not limited to guides on different types of therapy approaches and their corresponding templates
- A HIPAA-compliant and secure EHR for digital notes you make during the session
- Software applications for easy scheduling and long-distance or emergency telehealth consultations
- An automated payment system you can set up for your client
All these and more are available on the Carepatron! Sign up to give us a try today.
Corey, G. (2017). Person-Centered Therapy. In Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (Tenth Edition, pp. 163–195). essay, Cengage.
Corey, G., & Cain, D. J. (2013). Case Approach to Person-Centered Therapy. In Case Approach to Counseling and Psychotherapy (pp. 90–107). essay, Wadsworth.
Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications, and Theory. London: Constable.
Rogers, Carl R. (1980). Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.