Carl Rogers was the American psychologist who developed person-centred therapy. His views about the therapeutic relationship radically revolutionised the course of therapy.
The approach viewed the person seeking help not as a “patient” but a “client”, who far from being a passive recipient of treatment was an active agent of change. It sees the client as their own best authority on their own experience, and being fully capable of fulfilling their own potential for growth.
He suggested that three conditions were necessary to create this 'therapeutic relationship':
Empathy - the client feels that the counsellor really understands their unique experience, what it is like to be them in their situation.
Congruence - the counsellor is genuine in the relationship with the client and the client is able to trust them.
Unconditional Positive Regard - the counsellor does not judge whatever the client brings but instead fully accepts them with warmth.
Rogers' strong belief in the positive nature of human beings is based on his many years of clinical counselling. He believed that "the client knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been buried".
He helped people in taking responsibility for themselves and their lives. He believed that the experience of being understood and valued, gives one the freedom to grow.
"By providing the right conditions the counsellor creates a therapeutic environment which enables a client to fulfil their potential and grow – much like a gardener does not 'make' the seeds grow, they simply provide the right conditions to create the right environment (i.e. sunlight and water) where growth is possible and the seeds do the growing for themselves"
The Counselling Directory