What are the criticisms of person-centred theory

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Person-centered therapy is a therapeutic model that depends heavily on humanistic characteristics such as empathy, vulnerability, transparency and authenticity to facilitate the therapeutic experience.

Person-centered theory holds that in the therapeutic relationship, both client and therapist must make themselves vulnerable and reach into their own experience in order to connect. Thus, person-centered therapists often share deeply emotional or personal stories with their clients. They might also engage with their clients in traditionally non-therapeutic capacities, such as by accompanying them to chemotherapy treatments or exchanging gifts during important holidays.

The model has been criticised as lacking structure and having no scientific basis at all. Many cognitive behavioral scientists believe that person-centered therapy does not constitute therapy at all, but rather a friendship.

Some psychotherapists criticize person-centered therapy for its emphasis on non-judgmental acceptance. They argue that part of the therapist's job is to provide corrective judgments against the client's distorted thinking. To remove that directive from the professional therapist, they argue, is to remove the very crux of therapeutic treatment.