Thursday, 20 November 2014

Person-Centered Therapy

Image: Carl Ransom Rogers

Person Centered Therapy

Created by Carl Ransom Rogers (1902-1987), this theory states that our reality is a result of what we experience in the environment in conjunction with our internal world (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Our self-concept emerge as we become aware of our perceptions, interactions with others and the values we attribute to these perceptions (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

Rogers argue that we learn that we need to be loved and develop a need for positive regard (or positive self-esteem), so the more we receive positive regard from our parents and others, stronger become our self-image and self-esteem (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). The opposite happens when we receive negative regard from our significant others (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). In other words, we all introject or internalize other people's values and views about ourselves and become controlled by their values (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Consequently, we only feel worthy when we satisfy the expectations of other people about us, instead of our own needs and expectations about ourselves (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). We become dependent of other people's love in order to satisfy our need for feeling worthy and loved (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). The more conditional is the love we receive from our parents, more chances we have to develop pathologies (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Hence, our experiences become distorted in order to meet the pathological need for achievement creating incongruence between our experience and what we have internalized as a self-concept (what we really want and what we have learned we should feel or do) (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). The person becomes “a house divided against itself” (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). Psychopathology will be a result of the maladjustment of a divided personality, its tensions and defenses (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

To avoid the anxiety and fear of loosing the love of others, we continue hiding our real feelings and needs from ourselves by using defense mechanisms and creating symptoms to repress our real feelings (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014). The more defenses we use, more rigid our perceptions become (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

However, when the individual receives unconditional positive regard (instead of conditional positive or negative regard), there will be no conditions of worth, and the individual will be psychological adjusted (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

Therapeutic relationship

According to Roger, 6 conditions are necessary to facilitate personality change.

1. There must be a relationship

2. The client needs to be vulnerable to seek therapy

3. The therapist is genuine and do not deceive the client or themselves

4. The therapist must experience unconditional positive regard for the client, so the client  become aware of their distorted experiences

5. Accurate empathy. It means that the therapist must sense the client's inner world as if it were their own.

6. The client must perceive the therapist's genuineness (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014)

Therapeutic Processes

It is a process which combines raising consciousness and corrective emotional experience that is only possible within a non-directive, genuine, positive and empathic therapeutic relationship, where the therapist will mirror the client's feelings and help them to fully experience and express their real emotions instead of only cognitively talk about them (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

Extension on Person-Centered Therapy
William R. Miller (1947) expands on person-centered developing the Motivational-Interviewing (MI) (Prochaska & Norcross, 2014).

Mrs Glaucia Barbosa,
PACFA Reg. Provisional 25212 
MCouns, MQCA(Clinical)  

ABN: 19 476 932 954


Prochaska, J. O, Norcross, J. C. (2014). Systems of psychotherapy: A transtheoretical analysis. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

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