What is Person-Centered Therapy?

Person-centered therapy, also known as client-centered therapy, was developed in the 1940s by one of the most influential humanistic psychologists in the 20th century, Carl Rogers, and is clinically known as Rogerian Therapy. He believed that people fundamentally desire to fulfill their full potential and control their own destiny, an innate growth force.

This post will cover more on what person-centered therapy, qualities needed by person-centered therapists, and the basic goals and techniques of person-centered therapy.

What is Person-Centered Therapy (Also Known as Client-Centered Therapy and Rogerian Therapy)? 

It’s a non-authoritative approach to mental health conditions, where the client leads the process with subtle guidance from the therapist. Through the therapeutic relationship, clients can gain insight and create lasting changes. The goal of the therapist is to create an environment that is both empathic and non-judgmental. The client is the one that is driving the process, while the therapist is there to help navigate and provide skills and techniques that the client can utilize. This type of therapy can result in boosted self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-discovery.

3 Key Attributes of a Person-Centered Therapist 

1. Genuineness and Realness: it is important for the therapist to be open and honest in order to build a healthy and open relationship. By doing this, the therapist models important connection, communication and listening skills.

2. Acceptance and Unconditional Positive Regard: No matter what the client is going through, it’s important for the therapist to accept the client for who they are and be supportive and caring. This helps break the belief that only conditional support happens for them and open them to the possibility and existence of acceptance.

3. Empathetic Understanding: Through extending empathy to the client, the therapist reflects the thoughts and feelings back to the client. This is a technique that helps clients gain a better understand of their own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Through empathetic understanding client’s self-awareness increases which allows for change. 

Basic Goals of Person-Centered Therapy 

When it comes to any humanistic therapeutic approaches, there are some foundational basic goals. Those goals include:

  • Increase self-acceptance and self-esteem
  • Personal growth and self-expression
  • Minimize negative feelings (such as defensiveness, regret, guilt, insecurity)
  • Better understanding and trust in oneself  

Techniques of Person-Centered Therapy

The core technique is to develop the alliance between the therapist and the client in a judgement-free and comfortable space for client to be vulnerable. For person-centered therapy to be successful, the relationship between the therapist and client is the most important part. Some sub-techniques to help support the core technique’s success includes:

  • Non-directiveness. The therapist refrains from asking directive questions or engaging in advice-giving and lets the client direct where the session will go. The therapist can instead help guide the client to share more and increase vulnerability.
  • Active listening. This requires the therapist to limit their own interpretations, reflect back what the client is saying, and make observations of the client’s point of view. Active listening will help the therapist see that often what clients come in for has more beneath that surface.
  • Accepting negative emotions. Working through thoughts and situations requires acceptance of negative emotions and processing through them.
  • Help clients explore outcomes. The therapist’s job isn’t to give advice but can help clients explore what outcomes can take place from the decisions and choices you make.
  • The client knows themselves the best. Keeping this top of mind not only helps the therapist allow the client to lead the therapeutic process, but also help clients feel empowered in living their most authentic life.

In Conclusion: 

Person-centered therapy can be an eye-opening experience for most clients. It’s a fantastic tool in the arsenal of the professionals to let the client guide the healing process and create breakthroughs and ultimately self-acceptance. You are the master of your life, and you understand your challenges, goals and desires the best and ultimately change will happen within. When you can get to a place of acceptance that you are responsible for your life, you can start trusting yourself more and living your most authentic life. Are you interested in trying person-centered therapy? Many of our therapists are trained and skilled in this therapeutic approach.

About the Contributor

Mandy Paysse

Proofed and Verified by: Erica Aina, LCSW

Erica is the Clinical Supervisor and one of many therapists at Elliott Counseling Group. As the Clinical Supervisor she supports clinical growth, oversees protocols, and provides mentorship, monitoring, support, and supervision to therapists. As a therapist, she specializes in trauma work, depression, children/teen issues, and crisis management.


We offer medication management, therapy, and counseling services in Champaign, Urbana, Mattoon, and throughout Illinois with Telehealth. There are no long wait lists and we are accepting new clients. We would love to see if we fit your needs well. Contact our client care team to get started.