Carl Rogers developed an approach to patient therapy that is centered on the client and is thus referred to as non-directive therapy. This means that the therapist does not put in their own ideas to the client’s situation. Directive therapy is the most commonly used form of therapy. It involves the use of questions, providing treatments, and diagnosing or attempting to interpret the client’s problems. Non-directive therapy allows the client to maintain control regarding the content and pace.
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The basic idea in client-centered therapy is that every human being has the tendency to move in the direction of healing and growth and the ability to find their own answers. The client-centered therapist assists by providing a climate of understanding and acceptance (Ryan, 2008).
Carl Roger’s approach to therapy borrows from the humanistic perspective, which focuses on growth that is positive rather than pathology. Humanistic psychology rejects theories that explain human behavior as being determined by the environment or the client’s past only. The humanistic approach emphasizes personal and subjective understanding of behavior and rejects determinism (Ewen, 2003). Due to its emphasis on the subjectivity of the individual’s experiences, the humanistic theory has been accused of not being scientific. This is opposed by Carl Rogers, who argues that science is not made reliable by the fact that the scientists are purely objective; rather, science is made reliable when different observers can agree upon events that they have observed (Ewen, 2003 ).
Some of the arguments in humanistic psychology
are that human beings cannot be reduced to components, that human beings have a uniquely human context in which their behavior can be observed; that consciousness for a human being involves being aware of oneself in the context of other human beings and also the fact that every human being has choices and some responsibilities that they do not desire. Finally, humans are beings who make an effort to find meaning and value and who are also creative (Greening and Bohart, 2001). These postulates seem to appear in client-centered therapy, as is shown by some of the activities of the therapist using client-centered therapy.
According to Rogers, the activities of the therapist should occur in certain conditions. These conditions include: the counselor should operate with the knowledge that the client has responsibility for himself or herself and also has the willingness for maintaining that responsibility; the client desires to be mature and socially well adjusted and will rely on this to achieve therapeutic change. The counselor should also create a climate where the client feels free to express their feelings and attitudes regardless of how absurd they are.
Limits should only be set on behavior and not on attitudes; that is, a child perhaps may feel like breaking a window, but he should not be allowed to actually break the window. The counselor’s acceptance of the client’s attitudes should involve neither disapproval nor approval of the client’s attitudes and feelings. This understanding is conveyed best by seeking clarification where necessary. Finally, the counselor should refrain from actions like giving advice, providing reassurance, apportioning blame, and giving suggestions (Ryan, 2008; Green, 2000).
Rogers asserts that by meeting these conditions, the client will be able to explore their own attitudes and most likely find those attitudes that they have been in denial of. This will help them to realize which are the attitudes motivating him or them. This will lead to a greater acceptance of themselves. Following this clear understanding of themselves, the client is more likely to take the initiative and assume responsibility for selecting a new goal that will provide more satisfaction than the maladjusted goals that they have had before. Further, the client will choose new kinds of behavior that are in line.
With their new goals. The behaviors are likely to be more comfortable, realistic, and more considerate of the social needs of other people (Green, 2000). Rogers states that client-centered therapy is different from other therapies in the sense that the therapist focuses on creating a warm environment for the client rather than the therapist exercising skills that they have learned on the client. Hence the therapeutic relationship is centered more on the patient, and the counselor’s role is to see and understand the client as the client views himself.
The approach may seem easy since it appears like the therapist is just listening; this is, however, not the reality. This is because often, for the therapist who is beginning to use the client-centered therapy, the temptation to probe, provide reassurance and give advice is great, and often counselors end up doing this. In addition, it is even more difficult for the counselor to do away with their own attitudes and reorganize their own thinking, especially where the therapist was using other methods of therapy (Green, 2000).
In his approach to therapy, Rogers proposes that a human being is motivated to grow towards self-actualization, and mental illness develops when this drive is blocked. Human beings have the ability to make an evaluation of the environment and that they know what is beneficial and harmful to them. This means then that a human will not just look for food but food that tastes good. Human beings are therefore performing evaluations of the environment to know how they will actualize their own potentials, sometimes even unconsciously (Serlin and Greening, 2000).
Ewen RB, 2003, An introduction: Theories of personality, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, ISBN 0805843566.
Ryan M, 2008, Client-Centered Therapy. Web.
Green CD, 2000, Aspects of Client-Centered Therapy, Psychology History Classics. Web.
Greening T and Serlin CA, 2000, Humanistic Psychology, Unification through division, American Psychology Association.
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Greening T and Bohart AC, 2001, Humanistic Psychology, Positive Psychology, American Psychologist, volume 56 issue 1, pp 81-82.