How Does It Work?
Rogers highlighted in 1957 that the certain conditions need to be in place so that people can make therapeutic change. These are:
- Two persons are in psychological contact.
- The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious.
- The second person, whom we shall term the therapist is congruent or integrated in the relationship.
- The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.
- The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this experience to the client.
- The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.
He said that “No other conditions are necessary. If these six conditions exist, and continue over a period of time, this is sufficient. The process of constructive personality change will follow”. To better define these terms that the therapist is looking to provide let’s looking at congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy in some more detail.
A state of being of the counselor when her outward responses to her client match the inner feelings and sensations which she has in relation to the client (Mearns & Thorne, 1998, pg 75)
Unconditional Positive Regard (Acceptance)
The label given to the fundamental attitude of the person-centred counselor towards her client. The counselor who holds this attitude deeply values the humanity of her client and is not deflected in the valuing by any particular client behaviors. The attitude manifests in itself in the counsellors consistent acceptance of and enduring warmth towards her client (Mearns & Thorne, 1998, pg 39)
A continuing process whereby the counselor lays aside her own way of experiencing and perceiving reality preferring to sense and respond to the experiences and perceptions of the client. This sensing may be intense and enduring with the counsellor actually experiencing their client’s thoughts and feelings as powerfully as if they had originated in herself (Mearns & Thorne, 1998, pg 39)
To demonstrate these core conditions that the therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this experience to the client paraphrasing, reflecting and summarising are used. However, Rogers has said that “If it’s simply reflection, that’s no good. It’s just a technique. It must be a desire to understand empathetically, to really stand in the client shoes and see the world from his vantage point”
Does It Work?
A comprehensive meta-analysis was completed by Elliott et al. in 2013 that found that person centred therapies bring a large and significant reduction in psychological distress. It also found that the effects of these therapies were on average similar to other therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In addition to this when used in real world settings such as the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service that the results of person centred therapy were very similar to CBT and that these results can also be achieved in a shorter period of time. Finally, there is an overwhelming body of evidence to show that Roger’s three core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence are all associated with positive outcomes (Norcross and Lambert, 2019).
How Many Sessions?
The number of sessions changes depending on someones problem but it is not unusual to start with 6 sessions and then check every 6 sessions whether more are needed. Usually this means people needs between 6-18 sessions.
Is Person Centred Therapy For Me?
Person centred therapy can be used for a range of mental health problems such as:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Relationship Problems