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Person-Centered Theory Of Helpıng
MAKALE #5952 © Yazan Psk.Nazlı TUTAN | Yayın Kasım 2010 | 3,810 Okuyucu

The person-centered theory of helping is a phenomenological and humanistical theory which is pioneered by Carl Rogers. The focus of the humanistic perspective is on the self, which translates into “you” and “your”perception of “your”experiences. This view argues that you are free to choose your own behavior rather than reacting to environmental stimuli and reinforcers.

This therapy moved away from the idea that the therapist was the expert and toward a theory that trusted the innate tendency, that is actualizing tendency of human beings to find fullfilment of their personal potentials. I mean each person is the best source of information about her/himself. The term of ‘self- actualization’ is vital in humanistic theory. It is the process of realizing and acting on one’s potential. That is, clients are empowered by their relationship with the helper to use their own choices to more fully realize and act on their natural potential.


According to humanistic perspective, each person operates from a unique frame of reference in terms of building self-regard on their self-concept. Self-concepr is one’s own belief about themselves. These beliefs stem, in part, from the notion of unconditional positive regard and conditional psitive regard. Unconditional positive regard occurs when individuals,especially parents, demonstrate unconditional love. Conditioned positive regard is when that love seems to only come when certain conditions are met.

Let’s talk about ‘Conditions of worth’ to understand it better. Our society also leads us astray with conditions of worth. As we grow up, our parents our teachers, the media and others only give us what we need when we are “worthy”, rather than just because we need it. We get a drink when we finih our class, we get something sweet when we finish our vegetables, and most importantly, we get love and affection if and only if we behave! This is gettin positive regard on condition. A “good little boy or girl” may not be a healthy or happy boy or girl.

Over time this contioning leads us to have a conditional positive self-regard as well. We begin to like ourselves only if we meet up with the standarts others have applied to us, rather than if we are truly actualizing our potentials.



Primary goals of person-centered therapy are increased self-esteem and greater openness to experience. Some of the related changes that this form of therapy seeks to foster in clients include closer agreement between the client's idealized and actual selves, better self-understanding, lower levels of defensiveness, guilt, and insecurity, more positive and comfortable relationships with others and an increased capacity to experience and express feelings at the moment they occur, and most importantly and difficultly creating a fully-functioning person. The ideal human condition is embodied in the "fully functioning person" who is open to experience able to live existentially, is trusting in his/her own organism, expresses feelings freely, acts independently, is creative and lives a richer life; "the good life" (Rogers, 1961).

The Helper’s Role

Rogers felt that a therapist, in order to be effective, must have three special qualities. According to Rogers, when these qualities: congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy are conveyed by a therapist, clients can freely express themselves without having to worry about what the therapist thinks of them. The therapist does not attempt to change the client's thinking in any way. Even negative expressions are validated as legitimate experiences. Because of this nondirective approach, clients can explore the issues that are most important to them. Based on the principle of self-actualization, this undirected, uncensored self-exploration allows clients to eventually recognize alternative ways of thinking that will promote personal growth. The therapist only facilitates self-actualization by providing a climate in which clients can freely engage in focused, in-depth self-exploration.


It is not how the counselor assesses the client but the client’s self-assesment. Because from a person-centered perspective, the best-source of knowledge abot the client is the individual client.It may not be a question of whether to incorporate assesment into therapeutic practice but of how to involve clients as fully as possible in their assesment and treatment process.

Techniques and Process

Rogers believed that the most important factor in succesful terapy was not the therapist training, but rather his or her attitude.Three interrelated attitudes on the part of the therapist are central to the success of person centered theory as we talked before: congruence, unconditioned positive regard and emphaty. Major techniques applied in person-centered approach are microskills of helping. In addition to standard techniques, such as eye contact, that are common to any good listener, person-centered therapists employ a special method called reflection, which consists of paraphrasing and summarizing what a client has just said. This technique shows that the therapist is listening carefully and accurately, and gives clients an added opportunity to examine their own thoughts and feelings as they hear them repeated by another person. Generally, clients respond by elaborating further on the thoughts they have just expressed.


Research about the effectiveness of the person-centered theory of therapy has primarily focused on the conditions that Rogers believed were necessary and sufficient for change and for comparing person-centered therapies to others. The expected results of person-centered therapy include improved self-esteem; trust in one's inner feelings and experiences as valuable sources of information for making decisions; increased ability to learn from (rather than repeating) mistakes; decreased defensiveness, guilt, and insecurity; more positive and comfortable relationships with others; an increased capacity to experience and express feelings at the moment they occur; and openness to new experiences and new ways of thinking about life.

Humanistic therapies appear to be particularly effective in clients with depression or relationship issues. Person-centered therapy, however, appears to be slightly less effective than other forms of humanistic therapy in which therapists offer more advice to clients. So we can say that person centered approaches are more effective than no treatment, but may be less effective than cognitive or behavioral approaches


Some therapists argue that person-centered therapy is not effective with non-verbal or poorly educated individuals; others maintain that it can be successfully adapted to any type of person. Another complain comes from students they argue that Rogers’s theories are too simple, that they are limited to attending and reflecting, that they lead to undirected rambling, that they emphasize the character rather than the problem solving skills of the helper. Also,individuals may not necessarily have an actualizing potential. In addition, Roger’s theories are limited by his own perceptions of choice as a white, middle-class, well-educated man.
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