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Person-Centered Therapy in Social Work Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 19th, 2021

Critical Evaluation of the Practice Theories

Person-centred therapy has a unique and very loose set of concepts surrounding it. The primary idea behind it is the focus on the unique nature of each patient. Previous approaches to mental health therapy were reliant on preconceived notions about patients, which led to harmful generalizations and ineffective therapy (Coady & Lehmann 2016). However, person-centred therapy rejects all preconceptions and carefully considers the unique personality and experiences of each person to find the best approach to healing. Attention to the patient’s words is essential for successful therapy of this type (Coady & Lehmann 2016).

However, it should be combined with recommendations based on the examined information. This theory is based on the idea that people have the potential for growth that is often naturally realized. By putting the patient into the right conditions, they would be able to become more self-aware, honest, and able to heal their mental wounds. The concept of “right conditions” means that people may grow if they are in a certain state of mind.

It represents relationships between people that are full of congruence, empathy, and acceptance (Coady & Lehmann 2016). While this approach is relatively simple, I found it to be very sensible and true to my personal experience. Relationships that contain these characteristics have helped me deal with difficult situations in the past by providing support in a passive but highly beneficial fashion. Some made me realize how to remove bad habits from my life. Even outside of any intentional therapy situations, I see healthy relationships as essential for growth (Coady & Lehmann 2016).

Feminist therapy is designed to analyze both psychological and sociological factors that allow people to become aware of the impact that gender roles and differences in power dynamics have on a person, as well as to show how sex and gender differences between each other (Draganović 2011). The feminist theory introduced a number of new ideas to the field of psychology, including that social change is needed to resolve personal issues because they are political in nature, the relationship between a client and a therapist is based on equality, female experienced should not be considered to be of lesser value, as well as new definitions of “mental illness” and “distress” (Draganović 2011).

Contributors to this theory considered the client to have a large role in the therapy process, as well as the encouragement of social action and attention on the larger context of the issues that the client experiences. Perhaps some of these elements should be included in other approaches to psychology to update them to be equally representative of the male and female population. The sociological elements of the approach are also fascinating and show that despite the information about the historical injustice being freely available to the public, it is rarely used without a concentrated effort on the part of activists. This approach may be slightly more involved than others and may require more from the client, but it could also bring an effective solution to these issues (Draganović 2011).

Key Authors

Person-centred therapy was almost entirely created by Carl Rogers. Rogers was an American psychologist who held strong humanistic beliefs. He was widely praised for the creation of his form of therapy and is still considered to be one of the people behind the modern concept of therapy (Miller and Moyers 2017).

Feminist therapy was created through a collaboration of multiple psychologists. They included Jean Baker Miller, Carol Zerbe Enns and Olivia M. Espin, and Laura Brown. All of the participants were political activists who promoted equality and mental health. Their contributions reach far beyond the field of psychotherapy (Corey, 2013).

Origins of the Approaches

The origin of person-centred therapy lies in the rejection of the idea that people can be predefined. Instead, it focuses on putting the person into a state where they are ready to change and grow. Previous approaches were attempting to classify and categorize people into groups. Rogers could not support this approach due to his unique nature of each human. The human mind is too complex to categorize people because every person is unique. This idea was later better defined, and therapy based on this idea has shown to have a positive effect on clients by facilitating growth and change in their lives (Tolan and Cameron 2016).

The origin of feminist therapy lies in the fact that the majority of the existing types of psychological therapy was created with little attention to the female population and could not fully represent it. This is the reason behind the high number of new concepts and revised definitions that this approach has produced. The sociology focus of this approach can also see its roots in the feminist activist actions performed by its creators. The goal of equality is core to feminist therapy and is tied to the majority of its concepts (Kallivayalil 2007).

The Disciplines Behind the Approaches

Carl Rogers based the person-centred approach to therapy on his humanist beliefs and previous research on human relationships. There are six specific conditions for growth in clients. They included a relationship with the client, their vulnerability to anxiety, the effort of the therapist to present themselves in a genuine fashion, unconditional and positive regard of the client on the part of the therapist, and accurate empathy (Miller & Moyers 2017). The unique human nature of the client is one of the core elements of this approach. However, it is important to note that the idea of every person being unique was not invented by Rogers but lies in the core of humanism (Miller & Moyers 2017).

The majority of feminist therapy concepts are based on the concept of feminism. It is a social movement with the goal of achieving equality between male and female members of the population. Some of the shared concepts include equality between the client and therapist, attention to the female perspective, and focus on the effect that gender roles and power dynamics have on the client. Feminist therapy can be seen as an extension of feminism and can be considered representative of its values (Kallivayalil 2007).

Benefits and Challenges

Feminist theory has a unique perspective that allows for a number of highly beneficial aspects:

  • The primary benefit of feminist therapy comes to its focus on helping individual women become empowered and capable of overcoming barriers that they experience in everyday life, such as the differences in wages between male and female workers, additional difficulty in getting a promotion in comparison to male employees, objectification, sexual harassment, and other issues related to gender inequality.
  • The second benefit is tied to feminist values and concerns the identity of the client. While traditional values often present women as either wives or mothers, feminist therapy is focused on combining these roles with more independent ways of life. Women could become more self-sustainable through the use of this theory and avoid staying in abusive relationships.
  • The third benefit is that the client’s awareness of the social issues that affect them increases which may lead them to stop blaming themselves when the issues are more complex. The nature of a lot of issues is systematic. This means that an issue that may appear to be caused by the personal actions of the client has its roots much deeper in the way that society operates. For example, the client is concerned that she is not working hard enough to earn a raise despite already spending the majority of her time at work. In reality, she is experiencing the consequences of the unequal treatment of men and women at work.

The challenges for a therapist that uses the feminist therapy approach are numerous:

  • The multicultural nature of Australia may be difficult to consider when utilizing this approach due to the varied cultural backgrounds that require unique variations of the therapy. Some values of feminist theory might be more effective than others depending on the culture of the client.
  • Being objective is essential for a social worker, which may be difficult when previous traumatic experiences may affect their judgment. My friend experienced physical abuse during her previous relationship, and I am reminded of her experience whenever a similar situation occurs. However, I need to be completely objective during my work because it would help me avoid errors in judgement.
  • Cultural differences may lead to women being opposed to the non-traditional gender roles and conflict resolution between genders. These practices may not be opposed by the client either, as they may be core to their beliefs or culture. It is important to consider their values and especially the female perspective of their cultural background.
  • Public confusion about the nature of feminism may create a rift between the social worker and client. The perspective that feminism is solely focused on female issues is harmful, and its presence in society can create a barrier for help. It is important to inform the client that this approach to therapy would be beneficial to them despite the existing impression of feminism and establish that this theory is based on equality. False impressions about the nature of the feminist theory need to be refuted.


Coady, N & Lehmann, P (eds) 2016. Theoretical perspectives for direct social work practice: a generalist-eclectic approach, 3rd ed. Springer Publishing Company, New York.

Corey, G 2013. Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy, 9th ed. Cengage Learning, Australia; Belmont, CA.

Draganović, S 2011. Approaches to feminist therapy: a case study illustration. Epiphany vol. 4 no. 1, pp. 110-127.

Kallivayalil, D 2007. Feminist therapy: its use and implications for South Asian immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Women & Therapy vol. 30 no. 3-4, pp. 109–127.

Miller, WR Moyers, TB 2017. Motivational interviewing and the clinical science of Carl Rogers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology vol. 85 no. 8, pp. 757-766.

Tolan, J & Cameron, R 2016. Skills in person-centred counselling & psychotherapy. SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

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