Client-Centered Therapy: Definition, Techniques, Applications, and More

The therapy focused on the client , also known as customer – focused orientation or person – centered therapy, developed in the 1940s and 1950s is a form of psychotherapy developed by psychologist Carl Rogers from the 1940s and that extends into the 1980s. It is a built-in trend toward growth and fulfillment, through acceptance (unconditional positive regard), therapist congruence (authenticity), and empathic understanding.

His approach is based on a vital quality: unconditional positive respect, this means that the therapist refrains from judging the client for any reason, providing a source of full acceptance and support.

The goals are increasing self-esteem and openness to experience, therapists work to help clients lead a life full of self-understanding and reduce defensiveness, guilt and insecurity. In addition to having more positive and comfortable relationships with others, and a greater ability to experience and express their feelings.

History of client-centered therapy

Carl Rogers is the father and founder of this therapy and widely regarded as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. He was a humanistic thinker and believed that people are fundamentally good, he suggested that people have a tendency or desire to develop their potential and become the best people they can be.

Rogers initially began by calling his technique non-directive therapy, while his goal was to be as non-directive as possible, eventually he realized that therapists guide clients even in subtle ways, he found that clients often turn to their therapists for get some kind of guidance or direction.

Eventually, the technique became known as client-centered therapy or person-centered therapy. Today, Rogers’ approach refers to either of these two names, but it is also frequently referred to simply as Rogerian therapy.

It is also important to note that Rogers was deliberate in using the term client rather than patient, as he believed that the term patient implied that the individual was ill and was seeking a cure from a therapist. By using the term “client,” he emphasized the importance of the person in seeking assistance, controlling their destiny, and overcoming their difficulties. This self-direction plays a vital role in client-centered therapy.

Like the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Rogers believed that the therapeutic relationship could lead to ideas and lasting changes in clients.

While Freud focused on offering interpretations of what he believed to be the unconscious conflicts that led to a client’s problems, Rogers believed that the therapist should remain nondirective, that is, the therapist should not direct the client, not you should make judgments about feelings, and should not offer suggestions or solutions. Instead, the client must be an equal partner in the therapeutic process.

How does client-centered therapy work?

Mental health professionals who use this approach strive to create a therapeutic environment that is compliant, non-judgmental, and empathetic. Two of the key elements of therapy are:

  • Non-directive. Therapists allow clients to lead the discussion and do not try to steer the client in a particular direction.
  • Emphasizes unconditional positive regard. Therapists show full acceptance and support for their clients without making judgments.

According to Carl Rogers, a client-centered therapist needs three key qualities:


The therapist needs to share his feelings honestly. By modeling this behavior, you can help and teach the client to develop this important skill as well.

Unconditional positive consideration

The therapist must accept the client for who he is and show support and care no matter what the client faces or experiences.

Rogers believes that people often develop problems because they are used to receiving only conditional support; acceptance that is only offered if the person meets certain expectations. By creating a climate of unconditional positive respect, the client feels able to express their true emotions without fear of rejection.

Empathic understanding

The therapist must be reflective, acting as a mirror of the client’s feelings and thoughts. The goal of this is to allow the client to gain a clearer understanding of their own inner thoughts , perceptions, and emotions.

By exhibiting these three characteristics, therapists can help clients grow psychologically, become more self-aware, and change their behavior through self-direction. In this type of environment, a client feels safe and free from judgment.

Rogers believes that this type of atmosphere enables clients to develop a healthier view of the world and a less distorted view of themselves.

What are the goals of client-centered therapy?

Like many current forms of therapy (such as narrative therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy , for example), the goals of client-centered therapy are up to the client, depending on who you ask, who is the therapist and who is the customer, you are likely to get a variety of different responses.

However, there are some general goals that humanistic therapies focus on, in general.

These general objectives are:

  • Facilitate personal growth and development.
  • Eliminate or mitigate feelings of distress.
  • Increases self-esteem and openness to experience.
  • Improves the client’s understanding of himself.

These goals span an extremely wide range of subgoals or goals, but it is also common for the client to present their own goals for therapy. Only the client has enough self-knowledge to set effective and desirable goals for therapy.

Other commonly earned benefits include:

  • Greater agreement between the client’s idea and the real me.
  • Better understanding and awareness.
  • Decreased defensiveness, insecurity, and guilt.
  • Greater self-confidence.
  • Healthier relationships.
  • Improved self-expression.
  • Improved mental health in general.

What are the applications of this theory?

Rogers originally developed person-centered therapy at a children’s clinic while working there; however, it was not designed for a specific age group or subpopulation, but has been used to treat a wide range of people.

Rogers worked extensively with people with schizophrenia later in his career, his therapy has also been applied to people suffering from depression , anxiety , disorders of alcohol, and personality disorders . Some therapists argue that client-centered therapy is not effective with non-verbal or poorly educated individuals, others argue that it can be successfully adapted to any type of person. The approach can be used in individual, group, or family therapy. With young children, it is often used as play therapy.

There are no strict guidelines regarding the duration or frequency of therapy. In general, therapists adhere to a one-hour session once a week, however, the schedule can be adjusted according to the needs expressed by the client, who also decides when to end the therapy.

Termination usually occurs when he or she feels better able to cope with life’s difficulties.

Other problems to be treated are:

What are the techniques used in client-centered therapy?

The only technique recognized as effective and applied in therapy is non-judgmental listening.

In fact, many client-centered therapists and psychologists view a therapist’s reliance on “techniques” as a barrier to effective therapy rather than a blessing. The Rogerian point of view is that the use of techniques can have a depersonalizing effect on the therapeutic relationship.

While active listening is one of the most vital practices, there are many tips and suggestions for therapists to facilitate successful therapy sessions. In context, these tips and advice can be considered client-centered therapy “techniques.”


This is where the therapist summarizes what the client said and verbalizes this summary to the client to show understanding. Sometimes a therapist will pay particular attention to reflecting on the emotional content of a client’s narrative.

Active listening

The therapist is actively listening to the client rather than seeking information for another purpose, such as a problem or symptom. The goal is to listen and empathize.

Uncensored Experience Leads to Personal Growth

The therapist does not guide the client to certain topics, clients will take therapy where it should go.

Georgia Tarrant
 | Website

Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.