Client-Centered Therapy: What Are the Benefits for Your Clients?

When clients decide to attend therapy, they’ve often already sought help by reaching out to loved ones. When this happens, friends and family may tell the individual how to fix their problem in an attempt to be helpful. However, it may feel more like a lecture to the individual and negatively impact the individual.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy, client-centered therapy – also called person-centered therapy – focuses on listening to clients and giving them room to find solutions that work for them, as opposed to diagnosing and treating conditions. Here is why this approach is so successful.

Put your clients first from the get-go with Ravel Mental Health.

What Is Client-Centered Therapy?

With client-centered therapy, the client is in charge. The purpose of this type of therapy is to help clients look within themselves as they lead the discussions and determine the answers for themselves. The therapist’s role is to simply listen, offer support, and ensure the client continues on their journey.

This approach allows clients to have more space and agency throughout the process. It empowers and motivates them during therapy. Client-centered therapy is based on three basic principles:

  • Genuineness – The therapist is genuinely themselves in the therapeutic relationship instead of taking on a traditional authoritative role during sessions.
  • Acceptance – This means the therapist does not judge the client. The therapist encourages and trusts them to make their own decisions for their lives.
  • Empathy – With the empathy principle, the therapist ‘feels with’ the client as opposed to ‘feeling for’ the client. The therapist aims to view the feelings, thoughts, and ideas from the client’s lens, not their own.

How Does Client-Centered Therapy Work?

In client-centered therapy, the client talks about whatever they want or need to talk about. The therapist chimes in when necessary to move the conversation along or clarify what the client has said. This process allows clients to talk through their problems so they can better understand, address, and resolve their thoughts and feelings.

Sessions typically follow this format:

  1. Catharsis – The therapist has conversations with the client, not about them, to help them develop an increased awareness of their problems and emotions on a deeper level. The client is allowed to freely explore their thoughts and feelings during the session
  2. Insight – The therapist involves the client in every step of the session, supporting them to make their own decisions. This freedom allows the client to face certain realities they may have been avoiding, become more accepting of themselves, and alter their perceptions of themselves.
  3. Positive Action – The therapist helps the client focus on their unique strengths, enabling them to actively plan how to change behaviors to better align with their reshaped sense of self.

Client-Centered Therapy vs. Freudian Therapy

Carl Rogers developed client-centered therapy in the 1940s. Rogers believed that each person has the ability to make a difference in their own life. Rogers and Sigmund Freud both believed in the power of talk therapy. However, Freud believed the purpose of therapy was to reveal conflicts in the client’s subconscious mind, while Rogers preferred to focus on the conscious mind. Rogers trusted that each client could formulate their own insights into their lives.

Other key differences between client-centered therapy and Freud’s approach include:

  • In client-centered therapy, the focus is on the present, rather than the past
  • Client-centered therapy focuses on the client’s strengths, rather than their shortcomings
  • The individual is a client rather than a patient in need of diagnosis and treatment
  • The therapist lets the client take the lead, rather than attempting to steer the discussion

The narrative that Rogers advocated for changed how therapy sessions could be conducted. His approach advocates for therapists to be more than experts. To also be empathetic, warm, and nondirective.

Benefits of Client-Centered Therapy

The techniques used in client-centered therapy have many benefits, including helping clients develop a stronger sense of self-identity and self-worth. In addition, individuals who attend therapy sessions that use this approach often improve their self-awareness and problem-solving abilities.

Other benefits of client-centered therapy include:

  • Helps clients overcome depression, anxiety, grief, or stress
  • Helps clients find a balance between their idealized self and actual self
  • Enables clients to trust in themselves and others
  • Reduces feelings of guilt and insecurity in clients
  • Allows clients to seek and sustain healthier relationships
  • Encourages healthier forms of self-expression
  • Boosts clients’ self-esteem and confidence
  • Helps clients find more fulfilling and positive relationships
  • Provides clients with tools to better manage their stress
  • Increases a sense of calm in clients

Client-centered therapy can be beneficial to clients suffering from a range of mental health challenges, including:

  • Phobias
  • Addiction
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Stress
  • Eating Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia

This approach can also benefit those struggling with the process of aging, dealing with a disability, or have difficulty trusting themselves or others.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Client-Centered Therapy

There are many positives to the client-centered approach. It offers clients a safe, accepting, and growing environment to explore their emotions while focusing on the present. It is also a non-directive form of therapy that does not make the client dependent on the therapist.

However, there are some weaknesses to this approach. The nature of client-centered therapy doesn’t allow professionals to give helpful advice or guidance to clients, which some think could be harmful to clients. On the other side, some therapists may struggle with being entirely non-directive and have difficulty refraining from giving advice, negating the point of the approach altogether.

Tips for Client-Centered Therapy Sessions

  1. Set clear boundaries – Rule out any off-limits topics for the session and make sure the client knows how long the session will last before beginning.
  2. Let the client lead – Let the client explain what is wrong and resist the urge to tell them what their problem is or how they should fix it. Remind clients that it is them and only them who can make decisions for themselves.
  3. Refrain from judgment – Conduct the session without the slightest judgment or a negative opinion on what the client says to maintain trust.
  4. Listen and Mirror – Listen carefully to what the client is saying and then mirror their thoughts back to them. This can not only help clarify the client’s point of view, but it can also help the client better understand their feelings and find a constructive path forward.
  5. Be genuine – If necessary, open up to the client so they know they are not alone. Pay attention to your verbal and nonverbal cues when trying to communicate with the client and avoid being too authoritative.
  6. Accept the client as they are – Provide a safe and comfortable space for them to explore their emotions, even if their emotions are negative toward themselves or you.
  7. Know yourself, too – Finally, it’s just as important for therapists to know themselves as it is to know their clients. Sometimes a therapist-client relationship doesn’t work. It’s unrealistic for therapists to expect 100% success 100% of the time.

Putting the Client First

Client-centered therapy creates a safe, positive environment that helps the client develop a more optimistic view of the world and themself. Ultimately, the client-centered approach means taking more time to focus on clients. Ravel Mental Health is a digital booking platform that allows therapists to work more efficiently, spending less time on scheduling and more time on what matters the most: the people who need our help.

Want to learn more? Sign up for the Ravel Mental Health newsletter

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top