This is a short description of Client-Centered Therapy from my perspective
as a student therapist, followed by links to local and remote resources
on the subject. -- Matthew Ryan
Client-Centered Therapy (CCT) was developed by Carl Rogers in the 40's
and 50's. It is a non-directive approach to therapy, "directive"
meaning any therapist behavior that deliberately steers the client in some
way. Directive behaviors include asking questions, offering treatments,
and making interpretations and diagnoses. Virtually all forms of therapy
practised in the US are directive.
A non-directive approach is very appealing on the face of it to many
clients, because they get to keep control over the content and pace of
the therapy. It is intended to serve them, after all. The therapist isn't
evaluating them in any way or trying to "figure them out".
But what is in CCT, one may ask, if the therapist isn't interjecting
their own stuff?
The answer is, whatever the client brings to it. And that is, honestly,
a very good answer. The foundational belief of CCT is that people tend
to move toward growth and healing, and have the capacity to find their
own answers. This tendency is helped along by an accepting and understanding
climate, which the CC therapist seeks to provide above all else.
So, this is what CC therapists do:
CCT may sound simple or limited, because there is no particular structure
that the therapist is trying to apply. But when I watch CCT in action I
see a very rich and complicated process. People unravel their own stuff.
They discover new things, take brave steps, and don't have to cope with
a therapist who is doing things to them in the meantime. The therapist
strives to understand and accept the client's stuff, which is no simple
feat. Over time, the client increasingly seeks to understand and accept
their stuff too.
Listen and try to understand how things are from the client's
point of view.
Check that understanding with the client if unsure.
Treat the client with the utmost respect and regard.
There is also a mandate for the therapist to be "congruent", or "transparent"
- which means being self-aware, self-accepting, and having no mask between
oneself and the client. The therapist knows themselves and is willing
to be known.
That CCT is effective has been amply demonstrated by decades of research.
Furthermore, recent research has shown that the most significant variables
in the effectiveness of therapy are aspects of the relationship and the
therapist's personal development - not the particular discipline
they practise or techniques they employ. C-C therapists focus more attention
on these variables than therapists in any other discipline.
Remarkable as it may seem, research has never shown that
it is more effective to address specific problems with specific therapy
techniques. Amazing, yes? Without this result, there is no justification
for a therapist to make diagnoses in the first place.
(This list is woefully incomplete, fortunately Allan Turner keeps up
Allan Turner's homepage
The best client-centered/person-centered homepage that I know of.
A site in Manchester, England, offering Person-Centred Training and publishing
PCA/CCT books. Their books are quite relevant for trainees and trainers
in the person-centered approach.
British Association for the Person Centered Approach
London, WC1N 3XX
Exists to promote and develop all applications of the person-centred approach
in Great Britain. Publishes a newsletter and a twice-yearly Journal: Person
Association for the Development of the Person Centered Approach
Back to Matt