Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques


Person-centered therapy is based on the ideas of a humanistic approach to psychology. Its purpose is to facilitate change and growth by helping the client realize and fulfill their potential. According to Gladding (2021), “the validity of the person-centered approach to counseling may seem obvious in the 21st century, but its therapeutic process and procedures were considered anything but routine when it emerged” (p. 58). In the 1940s, Carl Rogers laid the groundwork for the humanistic framework emphasizing empathy, genuineness, and acceptance as the core aspects of counseling (Gladding, 2021, p. 58). His method was non-directive, client-oriented, and centered around the idea that each individual has a self-actualizing tendency that can be fulfilled through goal-directed attitudes. This paper aims to provide an overview of person-centered therapy and discuss therapeutic goals, the role of the therapist, and counseling techniques that might be used with this approach.

Therapeutic Goals

With a humanistic approach, therapeutic goals depend on the patient and their unique needs. As Gladding (2021) notes, objectives “are geared to clients as people, not to their problems” (p. 62). The overarching goal is to help the individual become fully functioning, which, in turn, promotes change, self-exploration, self-acceptance, and effective decision-making. In other words, client-centered therapy emphasizes the human potential within every person, which allows for using inner resources to improve and grow. Notably, the counselor neither directs the process nor sets therapeutic objectives (Gladding, 2021). It is essential to build a client-therapist relationship based on equality and collaboration.

Generally, there are several principal objectives that can be outlined by the person-centered counselor. In particular, the facilitation of personal development and growth is crucial. Based on the client’s needs, preferences, and understanding of self, effective objectives can be set. Another principal goal of therapy is to eliminate feeling of distress, guilt, and insecurity, as well as address mental health issues. Furthermore, it is essential to improve the client’s self-esteem, confidence, and openness to exploration (Gladding, 2021). As a result, another important goal can be achieved, such as enhancing the individual’s understanding of themselves and promoting self-exploration.

The Role of the Therapist

In person-centered counseling, the therapist plays a holistic role, setting and maintaining the appropriate environment where the client can explore their potential and achieve therapeutic goals. Empathy, patience, understanding, and acceptance are essential aspects of the counseling process. As Gladding (2021) states, “counselors trust clients to develop the agenda with counselors working as facilitators rather than as directors” (p. 61). In other words, there is no set course for each session, and the objectives are flexible, allowing the client to define them.

Person-centered therapists use their professional skills to read verbal and nonverbal cues through observation and listening. In doing so, the counselor gains a more empathic understanding of the individual, which enhances communication and builds a positive rapport (Ackerman, 2021). Furthermore, genuineness and congruence are essential parts of the process. The counselor shares their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly, which contributes to a trustful relationship with the client. According to Ackerman (2021), the therapist demonstrates unconditional positive regard for the patient, which means active listening, support, and a lack of judgment. Body language and eye contact are essential for expressing emotions and facilitating positive change during the session. As can be seen, the person-centered counselor is non-authoritative but supportive toward the client, working in collaboration to achieve therapeutic goals.

Counseling Techniques

Person-centered counseling techniques are different from other approaches since they focus on creating a proper environment for a mental health professional. The main objective is to facilitate change and growth through the improvement of self-awareness (Ackerman, 2021). Therefore, counseling techniques employ an empathetic, conformable, and non-judgmental approach. As per Gladding (2021), therapy methods include congruence, unconditional positive regard, empathetic understanding, a reflection of feelings and thoughts, as well as active and passive listening. As can be seen, the process of creating a therapeutic relationship between the client and the counselor is highlighted in the humanistic approach.

Furthermore, other methods are available for mental health professionals aiming to create a supportive environment where clients feel safe and understood. In particular, Gladding (2021) lists summarization, clarification, confrontation, and general or open-ended leads as person-centered counseling techniques. According to Ackerman (2021), “this therapy is founded on the idea that clients know themselves, and are the best sources of knowledge and insight about their problems and potential solutions” (para. 51). Therefore, self-direction is essential to facilitate change in behavior and personal growth.


To conclude, person-centered therapy recognizes the human potential for growth and focuses on an unconditional positive reward to help the client improve self-awareness. The therapeutic goals of client-centered counseling emphasize the importance of full functionality and the achievement of personal life objectives. The role of the counselor is to maintain a supportive environment where the client feels safe and can explore their potential. Various person-centered techniques can be implemented to facilitate growth, including congruence, empathy, summarization, clarification, confrontation, a reflection of feelings, and others.


Ackerman, C. E. (2021). 10 person-centered therapy techniques inspired by Carl Rogers. Positive Psychology. Web.

Gladding, S. T. (2021). Theories of counseling (3rd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 19). Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 19). Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques.

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"Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques." PsychologyWriting, 19 Sept. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques'. 19 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques." September 19, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques." September 19, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Person-Centered Therapy and Counseling Techniques." September 19, 2023.