person-centered therapy Person-Centered Therapy (sometimes PCT) is the default setting for the majority of psychotherapists practicing today. Carl Rogers led the charge away from traditional psychodynamic therapies in the 1950s, suggesting a warmer approach which sees clients as motivated toward self-actualization. With a person-centered approach, therapists no longer held a blank-slate position with clients, instead engaging with them more openly. Rogers proposed core conditions necessary for growth in his client-centered, humanistic therapy. From Wikipedia:

  1. Therapist-Client Psychological Contact: a relationship between client and therapist must exist, and it must be a relationship in which each person's perception of the other is important.
  2. Client in-congruence: that in-congruence exists between the client's experience and awareness.
  3. Therapist Congruence, or Genuineness: the therapist is congruent within the therapeutic relationship. The therapist is deeply involved him or herself - they are not "acting" - and they can draw on their own experiences (self-disclosure) to facilitate the relationship.
  4. Therapist Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR): the therapist accepts the client unconditionally, without judgment, disapproval or approval. This facilitates increased self-regard in the client, as they can begin to become aware of experiences in which their view of self-worth was distorted by others.
  5. Therapist Empathic understanding: the therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference. Accurate empathy on the part of the therapist helps the client believe the therapist's unconditional love for them.
  6. Client Perception: that the client perceives, to at least a minimal degree, the therapist's UPR and empathic understanding.

You can go into the social work exam melting this down to three essentials, your Rogers/person-centered flashcard: genuineness, accurate empathy, and unconditional positive regard. That alone should get you through just about any test question on the topic. Is there more to know? Of course! Keep reading here:

Good luck with the exam!


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May 18, 2014
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