Does Client Centered Therapy Work?

10/13/2017 12:17 am ET Updated Oct 13, 2017

Client Centered Therapy was created by Carl Rogers in the 1940’s. The premise of it is that it focuses on the individual AKA the client. When I hear that, I wonder how it differs from any form of therapy because don’t most therapies focus on the person who’s in therapy? I’m not sure I understand how this is different. From reading about it, it seems like the therapist makes an effort to be empathetic towards their client and put themselves in the client’s shoes. That seems like a positive thing to me. Empathy is a lost art in my opinion and any form of treatment that emphasizes empathy is awesome.

Carl Rogers believed that it was important that the client was intentionally looking for help from the therapist. It’s hard to get to the point where you are actively seeking help. The client should be rewarded positively for their effort to help themselves. That’s part of the process of this sort of therapy. It starts with the person who is in therapy making a conscious effort to get the help that they need. The fact that the person is encouraged to get help is wonderful, I think, and it shows us that when we make an active effort to better ourselves, good things can and will happen.

One of the aspects of CCT that I can imagine would be challenging for the therapist is unconditional positive regard. As the clinician you are supposed to be positive toward the person no matter what they say or do. Dude, what if they say some racist hateful things? I can’t imagine being positive to my client after hearing things like that. What do you do when your client spews hate speech? I feel like you would have to make an exception to that whole unconditional positive regard principle. I do like the idea that the therapist is non-judgmental. People are often judgmental of one another, so it’s refreshing to see a therapeutic modality that emphasizes a lack of judgment.

Another great aspect of this form of treatment is that the person learns more about themselves and has a more accurate self image. CCT appears to be great for helping people love themselves. If the client is guiding the therapy sessions, that would create a sense of empowerment for that person. When they achieve success in therapy, they could learn to love and appreciate themselves more than they did when they started therapy. I’d say that’s a positive thing for the client and the therapist. I’m sure it’s rewarding for the therapist to see their patient grow as a person and feel more confident from when they first walked into the clinician’s office.

I’m not sure that I would choose CCT for myself. I like to be guided by a professional rather than me writing my own treatment plan. One of the things I like about Cognitive Behavior Therapy is that the therapist structures the sessions for you. To me, that makes me feel like I am learning something rather than making my own wellness plan.

Unconditional positive regard is part of Client Centered Therapy
Sarah Fader 2017
Unconditional positive regard is part of Client Centered Therapy
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