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What are the key concepts and principles of Carl Rogers's person centred theory?

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Person-centered therapy, or Rogerian therapy, emphasizes the idea that the client is in control of his or her therapeutic process and that the therapist is not the expert. Instead, the therapist is an empathic person who helps the client realize his or her capacity for personal growth.

Rogers believed that people have the ability for growth and what he called self-actualization, or the capacity to use their inner resources for growth. This model differed from earlier therapies, which emphasized people's problematic behaviors and limitations. To help facilitate this change, the therapist treats the client with unconditional positive regard and empathy and allows the client to direct the therapy when possible.

To grow in a psychological sense, the client must have a relationship and contact with a therapist. In addition, there must be a discrepancy between the client's self-image and reality that leaves the client somewhat anxious. To facilitate change, the therapist has to be aware of his or her emotions but not perfect, and the therapist must treat the client with unconditional positive regard (meaning reserving judgments) and empathy. Finally, the client must sense the therapist's sense of regard and empathy and use these forces to grow.

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Person (or Client) Centered Therapy is based on the basic principle that therapists should help patients find their own solutions rather than trying to impose solutions on them.

In an article submitted for publication in 1956, Rogers said there are 6 necessary and sufficient conditions for therapy under his model:

  1. There must be at least some psychological connection/relationship between patient and therapist -- one that matters at least somewhat to both.
  2. The client must have some amount of anxiety that makes them want to stay in the relationship with the therapist.
  3. The therapist must be him/her self in this relationship.  They can not be "acting."
  4. The therapist must accept his/her patients unconditionally.
  5. The therapist must truly understand the client and his/her anxieties (there must be empathy).
  6. Finally, the patient must be at least somewhat aware of 4 and 5.

So, the overall idea is that the therapist must care about the patient in such a way that the therapist is able to guide the patient to find his/her own solutions.

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