Person-Centred Therapy

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Person-centred therapy is a humanistic approach to counselling that emphasises each individual’s inherent worth and uniqueness. It is based on the premise that human beings have the capacity for self-actualisation and self-directed growth. It is a non-directive approach to psychotherapy that was developed by Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s. It has significantly impacted the field of counselling and psychotherapy and continues to be widely used and respected today.

The main principles of person-centred therapy are based on the assumption that the individual is the expert on their own experience and that the therapist is there to facilitate the individual’s journey towards self-discovery and growth. The therapist’s role is to provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment that allows individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings and understand and accept themselves as they are (Rogers, 1951).

Rogers identified six necessary and sufficient conditions for effective psychotherapy and for change in the client to take place. These conditions are:

  1. There is ‘psychological contact’ between the client and the counsellor, i.e., they are in a ‘therapeutic relationship’ together.
  2. The client is a state of incongruence, i.e., they come to therapy in a state of anxiety or are otherwise vulnerable.
  3. The counsellor is congruent, they are their genuine self with the client (see below).
  4. The counsellor shows unconditional positive regard towards the client (see below).
  5. The counsellor shows empathy towards the client (see below).
  6. The counsellor communicates, and the client perceives, the empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard.

These conditions are considered necessary and sufficient because they are believed to create a therapeutic environment that nurtures personal growth, self-exploration and positive change for the client.

Rogers believed that the three conditions of congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard were the most important and essential elements for creating a therapeutic relationship. These three conditions are often referred to as the ‘core conditions.’ They serve as the foundation for the other three conditions and are considered to be the keys to effective therapy.

Congruence in the therapist means that the therapist must be genuine and authentic in their interactions with the individual and that they should not present a false or artificial self. The therapist must be transparent and honest with the individual, this helps to build trust and strengthens the therapeutic relationship.

Unconditional positive regard is the process of the therapist accepting and valuing the individual for who they are, without judgment or criticism. Rogers believed that this acceptance and validation were essential for growth and change. Through unconditional positive regard, the client can develop a sense of self-worth and self-acceptance, which are crucial for personal growth and development.

The therapist showing empathy towards their client enables a strong therapeutic relationship. The therapist must be able to put themselves in the individual’s shoes and understand their thoughts, feelings and experiences. This empathetic understanding allows the therapist to create a safe and supportive environment for the individual to be vulnerable and explore their thoughts and feelings.

Person-centred therapy is useful for clients who experience a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been found to be particularly effective for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and their experiences and looking for a non-judgmental and supportive environment to explore their lives.


Rogers, C. R. (1951). Client-centred therapy: Its current practice, implications, and theory. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.