Client-centered therapy is a non-directive form of talk-psychotherapy that was developed by psychologist Carl Rogers almost 70 years ago as an alternative to the then existing orientations that relied on interpretation or guidance. Using cases recorded electronically, avoiding diagnosis and citing a growing body of research, Rogers provided proof that an orderly process of client actualization and self-discovery transpired in response to the provision of dependable, empathic understanding of the frame of reference of the client by the therapist (Zimring & Raskin, 1992). He further suggested that process should be based on respect and an attitude of acceptance.
Client-centered therapy is used by mental health professionals to create a therapeutic environment that is empathetic, conformable and non-judgmental. This approach has two main elements. First, client –centered therapy is non-directive. This means that therapists will let their clients lead the discussion without steering them in any particular direction. The other element is that this approach emphasizes unconditional positive regard. The therapist should show complete support and acceptance for the client, and accept them for who they are.
Rogers believed that human beings are fundamentally good, and have the desire to become the best people thy can be. He deliberately used the term “client” instead of “patient”. He believed that calling people patients implied that they were ill and seeking a cure from their therapist. However, calling them “clients” emphasized their importance in seeking assistance, shaping their destiny and overcoming their challenges. Self-direction is vital in client-centered therapy.
Carl’s original approach resulted in a number of variations on the original. According to Zimring and Raskin (1992) these variations may be categorized as client-centered psychotherapies as a result of their basis in Carl Roger’s therapeutic conditions of analogy, compassion and unconditional positive concern. Although these three qualities emphasized by Rogers are all beneficial, some studies have found that these factors alone are not sufficient to uphold lasting change in clients.