Have you experienced talking to a counselor? How did it go? There is a counseling approach that focuses on you as a client instead of as a regular patient. Meaning it’s a counseling that’s revolving around you.
It is been a stigma in society that when a person goes to therapy or consults for professional help, he is being judged right away.
Do you doubt this? Take it from Carl Rogers, a well-known humanistic psychologist who introduced a new approach to therapy: Client-Centered Counseling. This has added a new perception to therapy, patients or clients, and counselors. It has been shown to be beneficial to many individuals across the globe.
Let’s talk about the approach used prior to client-centered therapy. Before, the psychodynamic approach and behaviorism saw people as patients who are sick and in need of a cure. This makes it seem that the person in need of help is unfit to decide for themselves. This is where Carl Rogers came in to show his dismay. He somehow knew that this type of therapy was not sufficient and was a less effective therapy – something that is not client-centered.
The birth of the client-centered approach
Rogers formulated client-centered therapy. Rogers strongly believed that humans are inherently good and have a strong desire for personal growth. What they strive for is to reach the highest human development, also known as self-actualization. This is the total opposite of the term of how a ‘patient’ is viewed. Rogers then decided to change it to ‘client.’ A key point in the client-centered approach.
Foundations of Client-Centered Therapy
Slowly, Rogers built the foundations of Client-Centered Therapy. In this therapy, the client knows more about themselves than the counselor could ever know. Therefore, the set-up is that the clients share stories about themselves; thus, the name client-centered.
By continuously checking on the client’s feelings, the counselor focuses on the client’s foreground. The client realizes their issues, reflects on themselves, and gets an idea of what they should do moving forward.
Three Qualities Of Client-Centered Therapy
To reach that aim, Rogers emphasized that the counselor first must possess the following three qualities:
Be Sensitive And Aware Of Any Reactions
The counselor must be sensitive and aware of any reactions, emotions, or changes in the client as they talk. It is necessary to do so for the counselor to mirror the client. Summarizing or repeating what the client has said will make them feel understood.
Empathy will not work in helping the client see clearly if the counselor is not honest. The counselor must not pretend to understand, avoid any questions or fool the client. They must also be upfront and honest about it. The counselor should answer the client and let them know what is happening and the possible reasons why. This is practiced in client-centered therapy.
Unconditional Positive Regard
Part of the principles of this approach is that having honesty and empathy between a counselor and a client bodes well. However, if unconditional positive regard is not present, things will fall apart. You cannot be empathetic if you do not show you care for the client. It comes off fake and will make the client pull away. It does not matter if you are honest. If the client does not feel the warmth during a session, they will put their guards up even more.
Kind Of Relationship Built – Limits and Boundaries
That is the kind of relationship a client and a counselor should have. However, a counselor must be wary of the boundaries. Overstep too much, and the client will feel awful about it. Interact too little, and the client may not feel comfortable sharing. In therapy, there must be a balance between counselor and client.
How Effective Is Client-Centered Therapy
The most important thing to have in client-centered therapy to be considered a success is the connection between the client and therapist. As mentioned when discussing the qualities of a therapist, if there is a fallout between the two during a session, it will be difficult for the client to open up again. If that is the case, the therapy might lead to failure.
This is the reason why the client and the counselor must have a strong bond between them. They must also meet the other six conditions that Rogers mentions.
Six Conditions in Client-Centered Therapy
- There is a good relationship between the client and counselor
- The client is emotionally distraught (incongruence)
- The counselor is honest and open about their feelings
- The counselor gives unconditional positive regard to the client
- The counselor has empathy towards the client
- The client sees and feels the unconditional positive regard the counselor has for them.
If these six conditions are met, then there should be a positive change in the client.
Conclusion: Therapy That Is Client-Centered
Client-Centered Therapy emphasizes that it primarily focuses on clients who want to work on self-actualization. However, according to one study, this type of therapy is much more effective for individuals who struggle with mental health.
This shows that though this approach only started from one side of the population, it is inclusive of the rest.
A Therapy That Matters
As long as you are willing to open up and share your story, Client-Centered Therapy will be helpful and will bring you so many insights into your life.