Psychology and Counselling Introduction, Carl Rogers and Person-Centered Therapy

Personal Centred Therapy

Before we start off, we need to make it clear, in order for things to change, core foundations need to be in place.

Carl Rogers 1902-1987

Who is this guy?

In case you were not listening last time, Carl Rogers is the father of Client Centred Therapy, which is modelled after the potential for growth. He was also one of the first to transcribe  sessins AND better yet, he was nominated for a noble peace prize in 1987 for work towards racial harmony and world peace.

Why is his therapy based on the ‘potential for growth’?

Carl Rogers had always been interested in growth and development, spending time on a farm as he grew up before taking a science path, looking at the agriculture experimentation on plant growth. Then he transferred to Theology, so the growth of a human being spiritually perhaps.

Rogers was influenced by Otto Rank (Post-Freudian Psychologist), he only briefly looked at Freudian ideas before focusing on the who am I now (rather than how did my past effect me). His client centre approach focuses on the client, it is up to them what they need/want to talk about, and the therapist is really just there to reflect and bounce things off, sometimes people just need to talk. It starts with Self-Acceptance (I can’t change the past, So I will focus on the present and the future. I know I am not perfect, But I will rely on myself. I may be helpless now, but I have potential to achieve great things)

As someone studying natural health this is a very good thing, it promotes personal change occurring by themselves or slightly assisted. It is all about the person as a whole in the now, not so much in the past.

While the therapist may not agree with the actions of the client, they can still be there for the,, as long as they are not affected. Have empathy but remain detached, (you can’t help them if you are both crying). As a therapist you need to provide:

  • Trust, consistency
  • Communication
  • Warmth, respect and interest
  • Remain detached so you can help
  • Accept the facts as they are present
  • Act non-threateningly – clients can get paranoid or worried about seeing a therapist, trust issues and the confidentiality. Be dependable.
  • Recognise that people are not bound by their past.
  • Be with the client – no day dreaming or getting wrapped up in our own invisible drama. Try to hear them and understand, reflect spoken feelings and thoughts as well as their unspoken ones that they have shown through body language. Remember what they didn’t say or skipped over = that could be the actual problem.
  • It is ok to use paraphrasing, reflection, metaphors and processing responses and behaviours.

Person Centred Therapy:

  • Focuses on the Current State of Being, their self-concept of themselves and their ability to change or improve, let’s be honest, if you don’t want to change, chances are you won’t.
  • Self-Actualisation: Belief that they want to use full ability/potential, but fear gets in the way.
  • Therapist Client Relationship – if they ‘gel’ well, they will both get more out of it. Feeling of value and comfort.

This type of therapy allows the client to look at the “why”, after ww2, people started to wonder what was their purpose, and this form of therapy allows them to find it, rather than be told. Emphasises change for the better.


  • Many theories are that personalities are stable over a life time, well in my opinion, this is not always the case. Look at Miley Cyrus for example, she did a 180 on the good girl personality from when she started out on the Disney channel to now shaking her but like she’s in a “stripclub” (lyrics from her latest song).
  • The five big personality factors are: Extraversion, Agreeable, Neuroticism, Openness and Conscientiousness. Our personalities can be a mix of all five with completely different ratios.
  • I believe that as a person evolves (perhaps its devolving in Miley Cyrus’s case) their personality changes with it (fluidity) = we can change and improve.


  1. Make a change
  2. Assess effectiveness of change
  3. Make adjustments

But how can be someone’s personality be fixed and fluid?

Think of a coast line, it changes over time, right? We know that much, when you look at it closely there is all these things going on, like new buildings and new sand being dumped to stop erosion.

All we do is have to notice. Decisions you made as a 15 year old, most of the time you wouldn’t make again at 23. You know what I mean? Like that perm or year9 side fringe with the gap?


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

1)      Physiological – we need somewhere to sleep, eat, get clothing from

2)      Safety – feeling of safety and security, free from uncertainty and cruelty

3)      Love and Belonging – accepted, wanted and respected

4)      Self-esteem – own self worth

5)      Self-actualisation – true potential – the best that we can be.

One being the most important for survival.



  • Static
  • Unaware (unaware that they need to make a change or that their actions have effects on others)
  • Unfeeling

Fully Functional:

  • Fluid
  • Aware (are they need or want to make a chane, there is always room for change)
  • Aware of own thoughts and feelings (ability to say yes or no, not make excuses or be walked over)

Control and Awareness are the Key to well-being:

  • Don’t blame external forces
  • Always believe you can do something
  • It is always within your control
  • ‘When we know better, we do better’
  • Self-reliance – trust your own opinions and know you can make decisions on your own

and meet the demand of the challenge

  • Recognise your own feelings and go with your gut


  • There are two of us, the current real us (reality) and the one we aspire to be (who has made the changes in their life already).

Our ideal self is in actual fact far away, that’s why they are ideal, although the more right  choices we make the closer we get to them. And the closer we get the more confident we become. It isn’t about blame or feeling bad, it is about accepting how things are at the moment and getting on with getting closer. Knowing your ideal self is good so that clients can have goals.


Ideal self and real- self become the same thing. Very hard to achieve, but as you get closer they argue less and less. The inner voice is what I am referring to. The inner voice, should technically reflect external behaviour, but it rarely does.


Failure for inner voice and behaviour to have the same outcome. For example, what we know is right and what we actually do is different. For example social norms vs what we want to do.


Actualisation: Development into a person who actually knows what they want to achieve and/or have achieved a higher level of being. – People just naturally adjust and develop.


Experience: our experiences as a individual from:

  • Family history
  • Culture/ ethnicity
  • Spirituality
  • Life events

Make us as a person, you cannot take away a person’s experiences, they are unique and they shape us.

Core Conditions of Therapy

  • Congruence
    • no pretending
    • no acting – just listen and understand, just be there
    • no facades
    • no superiority – it is not about having the answer, let them get whatever it is off their chest.
    • DO NOT BE DISTRATED – treat them like a human being, with warmth and respect
    • Unconditional Positive Regard
      • No judgement – by being less judgmental with them they will judge themselves less.
      • Non-possessive caring – it is a hard balance to create, they are your client not your friend
      • Client safety to explore negative and painful feelings/ memories
      • Self-acceptance, show them acceptance, no shame and they will hopefully accept themselves too.
      • Genuine care for client
      • Accurate Empathic Understanding
        • Give them more than just a chance to speak
        • Help them make sence of what is going on
        • Becoming empathetic – some are born with it, others have to learn from experience, it can also be limited to certain areas – eg a paedophile comes to get therapy from you, I think a lot of us would have a hard time being empathetic.
        • Avoid mixing in your own feelings with those of your client
        • Clarify the feelings and understandings
        • Try and see  past it unbiasedly-While in some cases you may not condone it you can still be present.
        • Show respect to the person, but you dont have to to the action they took
        • A smile and good posture to create a sense of belonging.





The Four Periods of Development:

1940s Non directive counselling was developed by Carl Rogers, it took the power away from the therapist and gave it to the client. He challenged the assumption “Counsellor Knows Best”. This method omitted:

  • Teaching
  • Diagnosis
  • Interpretation
  • Persuasion


  • Advice
  • Suggestion
  • Direction

This was because Rogers viewed them as being commonly misused.  Non Directive Counselling required the therapist to no longer divulge information about themselves but simply rephrase and clarify what the client said and said non verbally through body language.

The client was in control and decided what and how it would happen, the therapist was just there to clarify feelings and thoughts with.

1950s Rogers renamed his approach Client-Centred Therapy, which would foucus more on the client than non-directive methods. The shift moved from the clarification of a client’s feelings and thoughts to a focus on the phenomenological (based on the study of human experience in which considerations of objective reality are not taken into account[1]) world of the client.

Late 1950s-1970s He came up with a new one which addressed the vital parts of therapy. “Becoming the self that one truly is” – borrowed from Kierkegaard, this idea was characterised by being open to experience, willingness to be a part of the process and trusting experience.

1980-1990s Expansion. The theory became known as the Person-Centred Approach


One thought on “Psychology and Counselling Introduction, Carl Rogers and Person-Centered Therapy

  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that,
    this is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

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