Mental Health

What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

young woman receiving therapy

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Sometimes, all that’s needed to facilitate change is the right environment. This is the foundation of person-centered therapy.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety and felt that your life was falling apart, you probably realized shortly after that it wasn’t. Anxiety can drive people to think things that aren’t necessarily in tune with reality. If they continue to think these things, it could lead to developing harmful behaviors.

The techniques implemented in person-centered therapy can help you turn your thoughts around and stop destructive patterns before they progress. 

If you feel you’re having more bad days than good, Zinnia Healing can help. We offer mental health programs such as person-centered therapy and group therapy sessions to help you regain control of your emotions. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 to find out how.

What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

Person-centered therapy, also called client-centered therapy or Rogerian Therapy, was created by psychologist Carl Rogers during the 1940s and 1950s.

He designed this person-centered approach with the premise that each person is the best judge of their own experiences and is also the best expert on how to change their situation.

Rogers practiced humanistic psychology and ultimately believed everyone has an ingrained desire to fulfill their potential. However, they fail to achieve this potential when the environment isn’t conducive to change.

Why Are The Terms “Person” or “Client” Used Instead of “Patient”?

Carl Rogers believed that the term “patient” carried a negative connotation. For him, “patient” is a word used to identify a sick person who seeks a cure from their therapist. Rogers felt this wasn’t a great approach to helping people feel more empowered, so he chose the phrase “client” instead.

“Client” gives the individual more leverage in their therapy session. By calling the patient a client, they feel more in control of their destiny. The therapist then plays the participant role, helping rather than offering a cure.

How Person-Centered Therapy Works

In person-centered therapy, the therapist and client develop a therapeutic relationship. They work together to create lasting change, though each partner takes a unique role in the therapeutic process.

Person-centered therapists offer the environment for change and actively listen to the client without judgment. The client talks about their feelings without guidance from the therapist.

In the end, the client arrives at their conclusion, which the therapist doesn’t generate.

Person-Centered Therapy Techniques

The goal of person-centered counseling is to create the right environment for change to take place. This environment must be comfortable, non-judgmental, empathetic, and therapeutic.  

There are three basic techniques offered in a person-centered session:

  • Genuineness and Congruence
  • Unconditional Positive Regard
  • Empathetic Understanding

Genuineness and Congruence

This technique requires the therapist to open the floor for their clients to speak freely. As a result, they will display genuineness and congruence while the client expresses themself. Unlike some forms of talk therapy, which require the therapist to interrupt and ask questions, Rogerian Psychotherapy encourages clients to express their feelings without interruption.

Due to this non-judgmental, non-combative environment, the client gains trust in their therapist, further prompting them to open up.

For this technique to be successful, the client must be self-aware and have a realistic view of how their thoughts and emotions affect their behaviors.

Unconditional Positive Regard

The client is accepted wholly by the therapist for who they are. Therefore, no matter what the client expresses in their session, the therapist will not hold judgment or treat them any differently. In addition, the therapist implements several techniques to let the client know they are heard and understood without interrupting them. These include active listening, eye contact, and positive body language.

Empathetic Understanding

Empathic understanding requires the listener to mirror how the client is feeling. In person-centered therapy, the therapist offers a sympathetic and empathetic understanding of the client’s feelings. They express their understanding of the client’s feelings from the client’s perspective, not their own. This helps the therapist develop a better understanding of the client’s needs. It also helps the client feel reassured and understood.

You don’t have to live with the anguish of fighting unhealthy thoughts on your own; Zinnia Healing can help. We will work with you to determine the best course of treatment to get you feeling better and living a more productive life. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to find out more.

Who Could Benefit From Person-Centered Therapy?

The best candidate for person-centered therapy is one who would like to work one-on-one with their therapist and those that wouldn’t mind playing an equal role in their therapy.

Person-centered therapy is most suitable for individuals with anxiety proneness. This includes individuals with the following mental health disorders:

  • Anxiety – a feeling of dread or uneasiness that causes physiological symptoms such as rapid heartbeat or hot flashes. Some people who experience anxiety regularly may develop an anxiety disorder such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Dementia – an umbrella term that describes diseases that impair the way a person thinks, makes decisions, or remembers things. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Psychosis – a condition that causes a person to feel out of touch with reality.
  • Depression – a disorder that causes someone to feel persistently sad, anxious, hopeless, irritable, or helpless. A person with depression will lose interest in everyday tasks such as working, eating, or sleeping.
  • Mood Disorders – a term that defines any mental health condition that causes a person to lose interest in important parts of their life. It also outlines conditions that cause extreme fluctuations in mood.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a serious mental health condition that causes a person to relive traumatic events. When this person is reminded of the event through a trigger, they may experience flashbacks or severe anxiety attacks.

Some therapists use person-centered therapy in conjunction with other types of therapy for people with personality disorders or conditions that aren’t listed above.

Benefits One Can Expect

Person-centered therapy aims to align a person’s view of themselves with reality. Strong emotions like regret, anxiety, and fear can trigger a person to overgeneralize, resulting in an untrue perception of who they are.

The greatest benefit you can expect from person-centered therapy is improved self-awareness, also called self-concept. Your self-awareness envelopes all the beliefs you have about yourself.

If you started with a very poor self-concept, one that isn’t congruent with reality, you would walk away with a better view of yourself — one that is congruent with reality.

  • Greater confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem
  • The ability to draw healthier boundaries
  • A healthier way to communicate your feelings 
  • A greater understanding of how your feelings affect your actions
  • Measurable personal growth

How Does Person-Centered Therapy Differ From Other Forms of Therapy?

Person-centered therapy is unique compared to other traditional forms of psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. People with an anxious propensity can expect benefits from these therapies, but some are more suitable for patients than others.

To gain relief through person-centered therapy, you must be willing to confront your issues by talking about them, even if they cause you to feel anxious. People who aren’t ready to take this approach may be better suited for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Yet, those with extreme behaviors caused by anxiety may be better off exploring the more intimate approach of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Differs From Person-Centered Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) relies on the therapist to offer solutions to the client (referred to as the patient) based on the client’s condition. 

A person undergoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy learns skills that help them reduce the symptoms of their condition. After using the Cognitive Model to determine the best course of action, the therapist designates these skills.

The Cognitive Model includes:

  • Automatic Thoughts: Recognizing automatic thoughts and how they shape a person’s response to events
  • Cognitive Distortions: Uncovering errors in logic that shape unrealistic views of a situation. This includes overgeneralizing, dichotomous thinking, and mind-reading
  • Underlying Beliefs: Discovering the patient’s underlying beliefs about themselves and the world around them

These meetings are structured and goal-oriented. 

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Differs From Person-Centered Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is suitable for people with emotion dysregulation. These people struggle with negative emotions and often use harmful behaviors to cope. This includes those with personality disorders and eating disorders.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy uses the structure of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which includes psychoanalysis, with the added benefit of mindfulness practices. Participants in Dialectical Behavior Therapy learn techniques that help them remain in the moment. This way, they accept an experience or situation for exactly what it is without judgment. The person can then critically assess their emotions and implement the correct skill to move past them. This stops the cycle of harmful behavior.

DBT therapists may offer their clients a number to call for crisis intervention should they need it.

How Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Differs From Person-Centered Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is a practice that combines yoga and meditation with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Yoga and meditation are methods of mindful living that teach the participant to focus on the moment. By focusing on the moment, at the very moment of anxiety, one can become aware of how this anxiety affects their behavior. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides the tools necessary to reframe this anxious thought. Reframing breaks the connection between negative feelings and harmful or destructive behaviors.

Participants in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy are required to do daily mindfulness activities at home. They are also required to attend weekly therapy and group sessions. Although this practice relies heavily on the guidance of a therapist and mindfulness coach, the individual must be self-motivated to complete the program successfully.

How to Obtain Success Through Person-Centered Therapy

To gain success from person-centered therapy, you must be willing to follow all of the guidelines given to you by your therapist.

Speak-Up

For person-centered therapy to work, you must be willing to open up to your therapist about how you feel. The foundation of a successful therapy session is to explore your thoughts and feelings out loud. This also requires honesty.

Be Honest

You must be open and honest about how you feel and why you believe you may feel that way. Person-centered therapy sessions are individual and non-judgmental. Your therapist can only assist you if you’re willing to be honest about how you feel. No matter how you feel about your situation, the therapist will accept you the way you are without judgment.

Be Open About Your Comfortability

The environment in a person-centered therapy session must be conducive to change. If you don’t feel comfortable in the environment – tell your therapist. Then, you can find ways to improve the environment and resume your sessions.

Do the Work

To have success with a PCT session, you must be willing to take full control. Those not ready to take this initiative may consider other forms of therapy, such as CBT. Although your therapist is taking an active listening role in a typical PCT therapy session, they are still there to help.

Things to Consider

Some conditions treated in person-centered therapy require psychiatric involvement or medication therapy. Let your therapist know if your overall goal is to come off your medication or reduce the dosage. They will work closely with your medical provider to communicate these goals.

It’s important to note that person-centered therapy is not a replacement for your prescription medication.

If you are taking psychotropic medication, continue taking it as prescribed unless otherwise directed by a mental health professional. Abruptly stopping psychotropic medication can result in unwanted side effects or symptoms of withdrawal. This could set back your progress.

If you have a substance use disorder or a dual diagnosis, you may require a different form of treatment before embarking on person-centered therapy. Frequently, a person with a substance use disorder will need detoxification before starting person-centered therapy. In addition, a rehab facility can help you map the blueprint to a successful recovery.

How to Find a Therapist Trained in Person-Centered Therapy

If you believe that Person-Centered Therapy could be helpful for you, it is essential to find a therapist who is trained in this approach.

Call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 to find out whether Person-Centered Therapy, or any of our additional evidence-based therapies are suitable for you. We have operators standing by 24 hours a day to take your call.

More Psychotherapy Options

These are other types of psychotherapies available: