Welcome! You may have stumbled across this guide which you are now reading because of one of three reasons: one, you encountered our person-centered therapy guide; two, you want to know more about the techniques of this specific approach; or three, you need a refresher on the knowledge you’re already familiar with. Well, whether you’re one or the other, you’ll surely find that our guide is filled with information helpful to your search.
However, before you proceed to the rest of the guide, allow us to provide you first with an overview of what you can read up on. With our guide, you can learn more about:
- Person-centered therapy as a therapy approach as well as a brief history of it
- How person-centered therapy techniques are helpful
- The circumstances or conditions when to use these techniques
- The various techniques one can apply when conducting person-centered therapy sessions
- The benefits of applying the techniques in your practice
- Carepatron as a software that can help you with conducting your person-centered therapy sessions
What is Person Centered Therapy?
Also known as client-centered therapy or Rogerian therapy, person-centered therapy is a type of humanistic psychotherapy where the client and the therapist are considered equals.
Developed by the American Psychologist Carl Rogers in the year 1940, person-centered therapy came about because he felt the need to introduce a therapy approach that was a contrast to psychoanalysis, the popular therapy approach during his time that was based on the belief that people’s present is shaped by their past. His desire for a different approach brought about person-centered therapy, founded on his belief that individuals innately have the desire and potential to change themselves. Currently, much like during his time, this approach still stands out from others because of the nature of the working relationship between the therapist and client and the structure of therapy sessions.
When discussing the relationship between therapist and client, it’s important to note that there is no unspoken hierarchy in person-centred therapy. The therapist's thoughts and views aren’t the only ones of value. In fact, in this approach, a client’s input and experiences are important, valid, and valuable. To add, clients aren’t seen as helpless in their struggle. Instead, they are seen as independent individuals capable of finding solutions to their concerns and problems.
As a result, in a therapy session, clients are given the reins, and the session's agenda, duration, and speed depend on them. During a session, the therapist is a mix of a supportive friend, a mirror, and a sounding board who will repeat particular client statements, ask follow-up questions, or clarify certain points to nudge them towards self-discovery, self-realization, and self-acceptance.
With regards to the structure of a session, because it’s heavily dependent on the client, there’s no one size fits all. However, there are a few things one can expect to happen such as:
- The therapist creates and maintains an environment wherein the client won’t feel judged or silenced when sharing.
- The client will share their story, and the therapist will listen to it, repeat phrases from the client that need clarification, and ask follow-up questions.
- At the end of the session, the client and therapist will come to a conclusion that may either require intervention, understanding, or acceptance.
7 Person Centered Therapy Techniques and Examples
Now that you’re more informed about person-centered therapy, should you decide to incorporate this into your practice, knowing about the techniques and how to apply them will surely aid you in creating the ideal environment for your client. To help you out, we’ve listed person-centered therapy techniques and examples below.
- Let the Client Lead
If you haven’t conducted person-centered therapy sessions yet, it can be quite jarring to proceed with one without an agenda and to hold back on offering guidance or advice.
However, this is one of the important techniques since this is in accordance with how Rogers developed and envisioned this therapy approach. By having your client take charge of the conversation, you’re kicking off their journey toward self-actualization.
- Look Beyond the Client’s Problems
With other therapy approaches where one must come up with a diagnosis, intervention, or management/treatment plan, therapists may tend to focus on the client’s problems and no longer see the client as a person who is independent and filled with the potential to improve themselves on their own.
When doing person-centered therapy sessions, it’s essential that the therapist sees the client as a person rather than as a problem to be solved. They’ll be more effective practitioners in this situation if they step into the role of being the client’s sounding board or mirror.
- Pay attention to your Body Language
Clients who see their therapist isn’t interested won’t be comfortable or motivated to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
So, to make them feel seen and heard, ensure that your body language shows that you’re paying attention. Some tips to show that you’re actively listening through body language are: facing your clients while they’re talking, leaning toward them to hear better, making eye contact, and refraining from crossing your arms and hunching over.
- Listen to Understand, Not to Reply
Though you are asked to speak up every so often to nudge your client in the direction they may want to go, it’s recommended that you listen primarily to understand and not to reply. If you listen to reply, your focus from the free-flowing conversation will stop when you want to reply, limiting the client’s ability to speak freely.
- Respond appropriately
Even if the clients may be the ones talking most of the time, you, as the therapist, must also be ready to speak up when needed. When it comes to that point, you must respond in a manner that’ll help the client. You can provide feedback, ask open-ended questions encouraging them to elaborate on a point, repeat paraphrased or summarized statements for clarification, and affirm your clients to assure them when they’re hesitant to delve into a topic.
Do remember to be mindful of your tone. It’s best to have an inviting tone that can be easily achieved if you’re genuinely interested in listening to your client.
- Don’t Overstep Boundaries
One of your roles as a therapist may be similar to a supportive and attentive friend. However, you must remain professional. Therefore, you must always keep yourself in check with certain habits you may have.
Whether you have the following habits or not, it’s best that you’re aware that you don’t:
- Interrupt a client’s story at an “interesting” point to ask more questions
- Jump to conclusions when you can sense where the story is going
- Interrogate them if they refuse to share more
- Impose your thoughts and moral beliefs
- Acknowledge that You’re Human Too
Much like your client, you too make mistakes and have your own shortcomings. By acknowledging and admitting these parts of yourself, you’re not only being more genuine towards your client, but you’ll also open yourself up to putting yourself in the client’s shoes to understand them and their situation better. As a result, you’ll grow both as a therapist and person.
How are Person-Centered Therapy Techniques helpful?
Now that we’ve listed down most, if not all, therapy techniques you can utilize in your person-centered therapy sessions, you may be wondering if you really need to apply these techniques.
The answer to that is yes! And here are some of the reasons why they’re helpful:
- They will help with producing the conditions that must be present during a session or, in other words, aid you in reflecting the attributes of a good and effective person-centered therapist, which are:
- Genuineness, Realness, or Congruence
- Unconditional Positive Regard
- Emphatic Understanding
- They will help you create an inclusive and non-judgemental environment that will make the client feel accepted - by you and themselves - and empowered to make their own decisions to improve their mental and even physical health.
- They can help reduce hesitation from both the client and therapist brought about by the fear of being uncomfortable or influenced to make decisions they don’t want.
- They will help the therapist focus more on the client and make the client feel they are on equal footing with their therapist.
- Beyond the session, both the client and the therapist will benefit from the strengthened relationship and positive feelings gained during the session.
When are they used?
It goes without saying that one can utilize these techniques during a person-centered therapy session where the therapist may be helping their client with the following concerns, issues, or diagnoses:
- Overwhelming Negative Thoughts
- Stress Management and Crisis Intervention
- Relationship concerns
- Substance abuse
- Trauma and Recovery
- Mental health disorders
Aside from these, according to research and case studies, you may also utilize the abovementioned techniques in other therapeutic approaches.
Benefits and research
Looking for more proof of why using these techniques is beneficial? Here’s a short list of benefits you gain, based on case studies and research, when you apply person-centered therapy techniques during your sessions regardless of the therapeutic approach.
- Improved relationship between the client and therapist that encourages teamwork and collaboration, which results in more favourable treatment results and therapeutic outcomes.
- Better formulated personalized approaches to dealing with the client’s concerns should they request intervention and guidance. If not, these techniques will help the therapist know more about the client’s coping strategies and mental well-being to make them realize their capabilities of understanding, accepting, or choosing less harmful solutions to their problems.
- According to a study by Corey (2017), these techniques can positively challenge a therapist's beliefs and perspectives, leading to growth in mindset as a therapist and person.
Person Centered Therapy app – How Carepatron can help?
Available as an app on your desktop, iOs, and Android phone, Carepatron, a leading management software platform, can equip you with the means and tools to help you conduct your person-centered therapy sessions and accomplish your administrative tasks. With our features, you can streamline and automate certain business and clinical processes so that most of your time and effort will be spent on knowing more about your client and building a trusting relationship with them.
If you sign up or download our app, you’ll get access to all of these intuitive features for free:
- Software applications for easy scheduling to reduce no-show appointments and for long-distance or emergency telehealth consultations
- Resources not limited to templates and guides on different types of therapy approaches
- A HIPAA-compliant and secure EHR for digital notes you want to make after your session
- An automated payment system you can set up for your client.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make responsibilities beyond medical practice easy and effortless. Check out Carepatron today!
Better relationships with patients lead to better outcomes. (2023). Retrieved 25 April 2023, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/11/ce-corner-relationships
Corey, G. (2017). Person-Centered Therapy. In Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (Tenth Edition, pp. 163–195). essay, Cengage.
Elliott, R., Bohart, A. C., Watson, J. C., & Murphy, D. (2018). Therapist empathy and client outcome: An updated meta-analysis. Psychotherapy, 55(4), 399–410. https://doi.org/10.1037/pst0000175
Farber, B. A., Suzuki, J. Y., & Lynch, D. A. (2018). Positive regard and psychotherapy outcome: A meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy, 55(4), 411–423. https://doi.org/10.1037/pst0000171
Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications, and Theory. London: Constable.