What are the strengths and weaknesses of the person-centered model?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The person-centered approach, developed in the 1950s and proposed by psychologist Carl Rogers, is a model used in psychotherapy, the medical field, and even in business plans, that consists of serving the client at every level of need, and basing the service provided entirely on who the client is.  To be able to provide a person-centered approach, there must be a strong relationship between client and provider, one where there is open communication, mutual trust, and ongoing interaction. 

The strengths of the model lay in the solid nature of the client-provider relationship. There is mutual respect, good conversations take place, and there is a common focus, which is to help get the client where they want to be. Again this can be either in a therapeutic setting, or in a medical recovery setting, or even in a business setting. When the client is at the center of the strategy the focus is not lost and more can be accomplished. 

The weaknesses of the model will depend on the client and whether the goals that the client wants to reach are SMART, that is, s-specific, m-measurable, a-attainable, r-realistic, and t-timely. It is there that the provider and client's communication is so important. To develop goals that are smart, both parties must be on the same wavelength in terms of strategies and interventions. Goals should reflect that the interventions actually worked.

psyproffie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of a person centered approach is that the client is the best expert on themselves and is best able to help heal themselves. This is the opposite of the medical approach in which the client is viewed as someone who needs to be fixed by those other than the client.

The strengths of the person centered approach can include that the client is the one guiding the experience while the practitioner reflects what the client is stating or doing and can re-frame ideas and practices. The practitioner does not pass judgement regarding whether the client is right or wrong.

A weakness with this approach could be that as it is client led; it is up to the client to be able to process information and make logical decisions for his/her own well being.  In the event that someone is not able to do this, the cornerstone of the practitioner not passing judgement or making statements when the client is right or wrong could be counter productive to the well being of the client.

pinitz | Student

Carol Rogers developed person-centered therapy in the 1940s.  Also known as Rogerian therapy, this innovative and influential approach moved the focus of therapy from therapist-led to client-centered.  Rogers believed that all people strive toward self-actualization (or balance), in their lives and have the capacity to achieve it.  Instead of the therapist leading the way in therapy, it is the client who determines the course of therapy, with the therapist acting as a kind of guide along the way.  The strengths of person-centered therapy are clear.  It allows for a warm, caring environment for the therapeutic encounter (as the therapist assumes an empathetic, reflective and positive manner).  It also gives the patient a feeling of greater control and the reflective nature of therapy assists the client in gaining self-awareness.  The downsides are that person-centered therapy assumes the ability of the client to make positive assumptions and choices.  As it is also client-led, it also does not adhere to a particular technique in practice.  Overall, person-centered therapy can be a highly effective method, but may prove problematic with clients who have deeper psychological issues that inhibit their ability to deal with reality in a rational manner.

jlkolb | Student

The person-centered model is a counseling theory largely influenced by Carl Rogers. It is a non-directive, humanistic approach to counseling that focuses on and encourages individual change by using three main components: Congruence (being genuine and authentic in the moment), unconditional positive regard (being non-judgmental so that the client feels comfortable expressing himself or herself), and empathy (demonstrating an understanding of the client's emotions). 

Strengths of the person-centered model (also known as person-centered counseling) include (1) research has shown that the client-counselor relationship is one of the most important aspects of outcome success, (2) this model is non-judgmental and optimistic, and (3) clients feel empowered as individuals.

Weaknesses of the person-centered model include (1) the model has a limited number of applicable techniques, (2) this approach may not be appropriate for individuals who are not motivated to change, and (3) the model may not be as effective as other theories when working with clients who have significant psychopathology.