Client-Centered Therapy

This is a short description of Client-Centered Therapy from my perspective as a student therapist, followed by links to local and remote resources on the subject. -- Matthew Ryan

Client-Centered Therapy (CCT) was developed by Carl Rogers in the 40's and 50's. It is a non-directive approach to therapy, "directive" meaning any therapist behavior that deliberately steers the client in some way. Directive behaviors include asking questions, offering treatments, and making interpretations and diagnoses. Virtually all forms of therapy practised in the US are directive.

A non-directive approach is very appealing on the face of it to many clients, because they get to keep control over the content and pace of the therapy. It is intended to serve them, after all. The therapist isn't evaluating them in any way or trying to "figure them out".

But what is in CCT, one may ask, if the therapist isn't interjecting their own stuff?

The answer is, whatever the client brings to it. And that is, honestly, a very good answer. The foundational belief of CCT is that people tend to move toward growth and healing, and have the capacity to find their own answers. This tendency is helped along by an accepting and understanding climate, which the CC therapist seeks to provide above all else.

So, this is what CC therapists do:

CCT may sound simple or limited, because there is no particular structure that the therapist is trying to apply. But when I watch CCT in action I see a very rich and complicated process. People unravel their own stuff. They discover new things, take brave steps, and don't have to cope with a therapist who is doing things to them in the meantime. The therapist strives to understand and accept the client's stuff, which is no simple feat. Over time, the client increasingly seeks to understand and accept their stuff too.

That CCT is effective has been amply demonstrated by decades of research. Furthermore, recent research has shown that the most significant variables in the effectiveness of therapy are aspects of the relationship and the therapist's personal development - not the particular discipline they practise or techniques they employ. C-C therapists focus more attention on these variables than therapists in any other discipline.

 Remarkable as it may seem, research has never shown that it is more effective to address specific problems with specific therapy techniques. Amazing, yes? Without this result, there is no justification for a therapist to make diagnoses in the first place.

Index of CCT papers that I've made available

Client-centered institutions:
(This list is woefully incomplete, fortunately Allan Turner keeps up pretty well.)


Allan Turner's homepage
The best client-centered/person-centered homepage that I know of.


Person-Centered Counselling Services
A site in Manchester, England, offering Person-Centred Training and publishing PCA/CCT books. Their books are quite relevant for trainees and trainers in the person-centered approach.


British Association for the Person Centered Approach

London, WC1N 3XX
Exists to promote and develop all applications of the person-centred approach in Great Britain. Publishes a newsletter and a twice-yearly Journal: Person Centred Practice).
Association for the Development of the Person Centered Approach (ADPCA)
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