Rogerian Therapy: Person Centered Therapy Techniques To Improve Your Relationship

Updated January 26, 2023by ReGain Editorial Team

Psychotherapy often focuses on a person's problems and addresses the issues they wish to overcome. There are, however, some different approaches to helping a person improve certain aspects of their lives within a therapeutic setting. Rogerian therapy focuses on the person and their capacity to improve and conquer their obstacles by emphasizing positive traits and abilities. This is also known as client-centered therapy or person-centered therapy).

Rogerian ("Client-Centered") Therapy: Psychology, Definition, And Origins

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When it comes to client-centered therapy, the definition states that therapy focuses primarily upon the client. This method is as straightforward as the name implies. While traditional therapy methods view the therapeutic process as a way of improving, modifying, preventing, or fully abolishing certain thoughts and behaviors as a way of treating a person's mental health concerns or problems in their lives, Rogerian therapy (or person-centered therapy), however, takes a different view when it comes to working with a patient.

Rogerian therapy instead emphasizes a person's potential as an individual. It focuses on encouraging personal growth with the goals of self-realization and healing without interference by the mental health professional. Rather than the therapist or counselor guiding the patient's session, such as in more traditional variations of therapy, they instead allow the individual seeking help to direct the flow of their sessions and support them along the way as they come to their conclusions. The patient is responsible for taking out their concerns and coming to their resolutions for these issues. The therapist helps them further understand certain aspects without fully interfering or intervening in any way.

Carl Rogers, the creator of Rogerian therapy, was a man that believed a "one size fits all" approach to therapy would not simply fit for all individuals that would be seeking out the help of mental health professional. He believed that all of a person's troubles stemmed mainly from their perception of their events. Therefore encouraging the individual themselves was the best method of making psychological improvements and progress, rather than relying on the more typical views of therapy revolving around the concepts of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Rogers placed a lot of emphasis on a person's capacity to self-heal and strive for personal growth. Therefore he claimed that the best expert for anyone seeking psychological help was the individual themselves.

One of the most important aspects of Rogers' theory in regards to a person being the best suited to "fix" themselves was the idea of their self-concept. This states that we all have certain perceptions about ourselves, and these self-views impact how we interact with the world and handle things. Someone who views themselves as weak or victims of their circumstances may be far more likely to be affected negatively and not fight back against something unpleasant than them. A person who views themselves as strong and independent is likely to go through their life events with more confidence and feel like they could tackle the world.

Rogerian therapy, instead of helping a patient overcome the problems of their past like in traditional psychotherapy methods, has the goal of helping clients achieve personal growth instead and achieve their full potential as an individual. This is why the term "client" is used instead of "patient" during person-centered therapy sessions because it emphasizes the individual and their potential for growth instead of implying they are in therapy to treat a particular psychological illness.

What Techniques Are Involved In Person-Centered Therapy?

So how is therapy supposed to work if the therapist isn't really involved in the coping and healing process? The techniques involved allow the patient themselves to direct their session in several ways:

  • Client-Directed Sessions-Most therapy sessions consist of the mental health professional asking questions or helping to guide the client in the right direction throughout their sessions together. With person-centered therapy, though, the client themselves chooses what to discuss and at what pace they would like to address their issues. The therapist supports the individual as they discuss their issues and come to conclusions and possible solutions independently.
  • Focusing On The Client As A Person, Rather Than Just Their Problems - In standard types of therapy, the healing process is often approached with a specific focus upon one or more particular issues and with the belief that the client's behaviors or thought patterns need modification to help alleviate some of their problems or the perspective of such. Still, Rogerian therapy takes a very different approach. Instead of being so focused on the problems or having a flawed mindset, this type of client-centered therapy emphasizes the positive traits within the client. It encourages these factors as a means of overcoming any other difficulties they may be having. This focus upon the client helps that individual to find the solutions to life's problems that work best for them, and this can further boost their self-confidence and self-esteem as they're provided the support to realize what they're capable of once they discover their own specific set of methods for problem-solving and working towards their actual goals.
  • Focusing On Identifying And Working Towards Goals - One of the first tasks at hand in client-centered therapy is identifying the client's goals and how they might achieve those aspirations. It's easy to let any hardships in life distract you and lead you further away from where you want to be and what you want to be doing. Still, Rogerian therapy will redirect your focus away from the negative and back to the positive. As with every other aspect of this type of therapy when in session, the clients themselves are encouraged to narrow down what they want out of both the therapy sessions and their lives in general and are supported by their therapist as they reach these conclusions and begin to discover the changes they will need to be making to help lead them closer to reaching those goals.
  • Acknowledging The Client As The Expert On Themselves Instead Of The Therapist - Mental health professionals are often considered the experts on getting help; hence people seeking them out for assistance in the first place. Once again, though, client-centered therapy differs from the usual ideas of therapy in practice. Rogerian therapy insists that the client is the expert on themselves rather than the therapist, and there can be quite a bit of truth to this. No matter how much you speak to your mental health professional, they won't know every detail of your mind or how it functions, even if they can get a pretty good idea of how it works. There may be some details you leave out in sessions that you wouldn't initially find important but may realize on your own later on, but they would never know to apply that in helping you with your problems. Rogerian therapy focuses on you as the expert about yourself. Therefore you are the most likely person to properly analyze yourself, your mind, and your issues at hand to find the most appropriate coping mechanisms and fixes that would be the most successful in resolving any concerns and leading you in the right direction. Your therapist is there as a supportive figure, available to lend guidance and advice in helping you to continue to figure things out yourself.

However, the most important factor of client-centered therapy is the unique relationship between the therapist and their client. Rather than having someone to sort through the information the client is providing them with and pinpointing issues, and giving them specific directions on how to go about fixing these things, client-centered therapists are more like having a good friend to listen to as you talk and sort through everything yourself. The ideal therapist for this type of therapy is a fantastic listener, accepting of their client and the things they will discuss during their sessions, and understanding the concerns their client has on their mind. In these sessions, there is no judgment, no analyzing on the therapist's part, and respect is crucial as they empathize with the client.

Person-Centered Therapy For Couples

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The majority of couple's counseling sessions follow the beliefs and patterns of standard psychoanalysis: speaking to each partner, identifying their problems and concerns, figuring out the underlying wants and needs, and working towards conflict resolution in several areas.

When couples seek out person-centered therapy, the flow is instead far more like an individual session with a Rogerian therapist. Instead of pinpointing all of the problems and making plans for resolving problem areas, client-centered therapy for couples will focus primarily upon speaking openly and honestly. The sessions will emphasize improving communication between the two partners. As with individual sessions, the therapist will not dictate what each partner should be doing differently and heavily involve themselves in the sessions, but provide support for the two to focus on communicating with each other and openly expressing themselves. By doing this, the two clients in their session will improve their ability to express their wants, needs, and feelings with their partner and direct their session with a safe mediator present.

The idea of self-concept also plays a role in couple's therapy. Person-centered therapy can help clients realize their self-concept and that of their partner and begin to understand how each sees themselves and what they believe to be their place in the world. By recognizing this, one partner can gain a significant understanding of the other as they realize how they view themselves and the world around them. There may even have been conflicts of one partner being insecure and having an unhealthy self-image and low self-esteem, causing potential problems or concerns within the relationship due to the unhappiness with themselves, and this can be brought to light and addressed if the other partner had never even thought that their loved one viewed themselves that way.

By gaining a better understanding of yourself, you can better understand how you function within the scope of a relationship with another person. 

Further Information

If you're interested in learning more about Rogerian (or client-centered) therapy or feel like couple's counseling could help improve your relationship with a loved one, ReGain is available remotely and for your convenience, regardless of your location and schedule. Don't hesitate to reach out to one of the many licensed and trained professionals available today and get the information and professional assistance you want and deserve.

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