The therapeutic relationship in Person centred therapy

Person centred therapy does not use much of techniques or doing particular things to clients. Carl Rogers believed that in therapy “it is quality of the interpersonal encounter with the client which is the most signify element in determining effectiveness.

Person centred therapy process that can intensely involve the thoughts and feelings of both clients and their therapists. There is coherence between how person centred therapists see the origins of clients’ self-alienation and inner schisms, and how they can assist them to grow and become healed. Person centred approach tries to provide the attitudinal conditions that are the antidote to the emotional deprivations that their clients have experienced.
There are his six necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic personality change. He stated that the following conditions had to exist and continue over a period of time for constructive personality change to occur. Also, that “No other conditions are necessary”.

  1. Two people need to be in psychological contact.
  2. The client is in a state of incongruence and is vulnerable or anxious.
  3. The counsellor's congruent or integrated in the relationship.
  4. The counsellor experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.
  5. An empathic understanding of the client internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client.
  6. The counsellor is minimally successful in communicating empathic under-standing and unconditional positive regard to the client. Rogers regarded congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy as "the attitudinal conditions that foster therapeutic growth..." He stressed that they were not all or none conditions, but exist on continua.


Other words for congruence are “genuineness”, “realness“, “openness“, “transparency“ and “presence“. Congruence is the most basic of the attitudinal conditions. Counsellors need to be in touch with the feelings that they experience, have them available to awareness, and “to live these feelings, be them in the relationship, and communicate them appropriate“. Therapists should encounter their clients in direct person-to-person contact. They should avoid an intellectual approach in which clients get treated as objects. Congruent therapists are not playing roles, being polite, and putting on professional facades.
Congruence does not mean that therapists “blurt out impulsively every passing feeling”. Nor does it mean that they allow their sessions to become therapist-centred rather than client-centred. However, it can mean that they take the risk of sharing a feeling or giving feedback that might improve the relationship because it is expressed genuinely. An example is that of therapists sharing their experience of fatigue rather than trying to cover it up. Such openness may restore the therapist’s energy level and allow the client to see that they are dealing with a real person.

Unconditional positive regard

Other terms used to describe this condition include "non-possessive warmth", "caring", "prizing", "acceptance" and "respect". Unconditional positive regard relates to Rogers’ deep trust in his clients’ capacity for constructive change if provided with the right nurturing conditions. Rogers stressed the importance of the therapist's attitude toward the worth and significance of each person. The therapist’s own struggles for personal integration are relevant to unconditional positive regard since they can be only respectful of clients’ capacities to achieve constructive self-direction as that respect is an integral part of their own personality make-ups.
Unconditional positive regard involves the therapist’s willingness for clients "to be" whatever immediate feeling is going on – confusion, resentment, fear, and love, or pride…” Therapists do not show positive regard for their clients – if. If they are smarter, less defend less vulnerable and so on. Person centred theory explains the need for clients to seek therapy because in their pasts they were shown positive regard – if.
There are boundaries to showing unconditional positive regard, for instance if a client were to physically threaten a therapist. Also, unconditional positive regard does mean that therapists need, from their frames of reference, to approve of all their clients’ behaviours. Rather, unconditional positive regard is an attitude and philosophical orien¬tation, reflected in therapist behaviour, that clients are more likely to move forward if they feel prized for their humanity and they experience an emotional climate of safety and freedom in which, without losing their therapist’s acceptance, they can show feelings and relate events.


Other terms for empathy include accurate empathy, "empathic understanding, empathic responsiveness", "an empathic way of being", "an empathic stance", and "an empathic attitude" – "To sense the client's private world as if it were your own, but without ever losing the "as if" quality – "this is empathy…". There are various facets to an empathic way of being with clients. Therapists need to get into the shoes of and get under the skin of their clients to understand their private subjective worlds. They need to be sensitive to the moment-by-moment flow of experiencing that goes on both in clients and in themselves. They need the capacity to pick up nuances and sense meanings of which clients are scarcely aware. With tact, sensitivity and awareness of what clients can handle, they need to communicate their understandings of their sensing of clients’ worlds and personal meanings.
Therapists should communicate their commitment to understanding their clients’ worlds by frequently checking the accuracy of their understandings and showing their willingness to be corrected. Empathy is an active process in which therapists desire to know and reach out to receive clients’ communications and meanings. An empathic attitude creates an emotional climate in which clients can assist their therapists to understand them more accurately.
Responding to individual client statements is a process of listening and observing, resonating, discriminating, communicating and checking your understanding. Needless to say, the final dimension is that the client has, to empathy. Even better is that the therapist's empathy touch with the flow of her or his experiencing.
A word now about what empathy is not. True empathy does not have any judgemental or diagnostic quality about it. Also, empathy is most definitely not a wooden technique of pseudo-understanding in which the counsellor "reflects back what the client has just said".




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