What is person-centred therapy?

Person-centred therapy, originally called client-centred therapy, is perhaps the best-known form of humanistic therapy. Founded by Carl Rogers in the 1940's, Person-centred therapy gives more responsibility to the client in their own treatment and views humans in a positive manner. Rogers had great faith that we could and would work out our own problems.

Focusing on the 'here and now', a person-centred therapist will gently guide the client towards self-awareness. They will support the client to trust in him or herself and to use this trust to find their direction in life. It is important that both therapist and client have faith that the client can and will find self-direction.

The person-centred therapist believes good mental health requires a balance between the ideal self and real self ... the need to somehow reconcile who we wished we were and who we actually are can cause us a great deal of inner angst.

Person-centred therapy emphasises understanding and caring rather than diagnosis, advice, and persuasion. Rogers strongly believed that the therapist-client relationship has a significant influence on the quality of therapy: he felt that effective therapists must be genuine, accepting, and empathic. A genuine therapist expresses interest in the client and is open and honest. An accepting therapist cares for the client unconditionally, even if the therapist does not always agree with him or her. An empathic therapist demonstrates a deep understanding of the client's thoughts, ideas, experiences, and feelings. Many therapists, not just those of humanistic orientation, have adopted elements of Rogers’ approach.