According to Rogers (1977), three characteristics, or attributes, of thetherapist form the core part of the therapeutic relationship - congruence,unconditional positive regard (UPR) and accurate empathic understanding.
Congruence: Congruence is the most important attribute, according to Rogers.This implies that the therapist is real and/or genuine, open, integrated andauthentic during their interactions with the client. The therapist does not havea facade, that is, the therapist's internal and external experiences are one inthe same. In short, the therapist is authentic. This authenticity functions as amodel of a human being struggling toward greater realness. However, Rogers'concept of congruence does not imply that only a fullyself-actualized therapist can be effective incounseling (Corey, 1986). Since therapists are also human, they cannot beexpected to be fully authentic. Instead, the person-centered model assumes that,if therapists are congruent in the relationship with the client, then theprocess of therapy will get under way...Congruence exists on a continuum ratherthan on an all-or-nothing basis (Corey, 1986).
Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR): This refers to the therapist's deepand genuine caring for the client. The therapist may not approve of some of theclient's actions but the therapist does approve of the client. In short, thetherapist needs an attitude of "I'll accept you as you are."
According to Rogers (1977), research indicates that, the greater the degreeof caring, prizing, accepting, and valuing the client in a nonpossessive way,the greater the chance that therapy will be successful...BUT, it is not possiblefor therapists to genuinely feel acceptance and unconditional caring at alltimes (Corey, 1986).
Accurate Empathic Understanding: This refers to the therapist's abilityto understand sensitively and accurately [but not sympathetically] the client'sexperience and feelings in the here-and-now. Empathic understanding implies thatthe therapist will sense the client's feelings as if they were his or her ownwithout becoming lost in those feelings (Corey, 1986).
In the words of Rogers (1975), accurate empathic understanding is as follows: "IfI am truly open to the way life is experienced by another person...if I can take his or her world into mine, then I risk seeing life in his or her way...and ofbeing changed myself, and we all resist change. Since we all resist change, wetend to view the other person's world only in our terms, not in his or hers.Then we analyze and evaluate it. That's human nature. We do not understandtheir world. But, when the therapist does understand how it truly feels to bein another person's world, without wanting or trying to analyze or judge it,then the therapist and the client can truly blossom and grow in that climate."
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