The Therapist-Client Relationship

The basic hypothesis of person-centered therapy is summarized in thefollowing sentence: "If I can provide a certain type of relationship, theother person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationshipfor growth and change, and personal development will occur" (Rogers, 1961).Additionally, Rogers emphasized three personal characteristics, or attributes,of the counselor that form the core component of the therapeutic relationship:1) congruence, or genuineness; 2) unconditionalpositive regard (UPR); and 3) accurate empathic understanding.

According to Rogers (1967), the following six conditions are necessary andsufficient for personality changes to occur:

1. Two persons are in psychological contact.
2. The first, the client, is in a state of incongruence,being vulnerable or anxious.
3. The second person, the therapist, is congruent or integrated in therelationship.
4. The therapist demonstrates unconditional positive regard (UPR) for theclient.
5. The therapist demonstrates an empathic understanding of the client'sinternal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this experience to theclient.
6. The communication to the client of the therapist's empathicunderstanding and unconditional positive regard (UPR) is achieved.

Rogers believed that if these six conditions exist over some time, theconstructive personality change will take place. In addition, these conditionsare constants, that is, they do not vary according to client type.

According to Rogers, the therapist acts as a facilitator, assisting the clientin his or her personality change process and down the path to congruence andself-actualization. It is also important to note that through the therapeuticrelationship, the therapist often grows and changes as much as the client. Thus,the power of the relationship that Rogers describes influences both thetherapist and the client (Corey, 1986).

In short, Rogers viewed the client-therapist relationship as one of equality,that is, the counselor does not keep their analysis and knowledge from theclient. Instead, the client progresses in his or her personality change(s)because of the "equality" of the relationship. "As clients areexperiencing the therapist listening in an accepting way to them, they graduallylearn how to listen acceptingly to themselves" (Corey, 1986). Since thecounselor cares for and values the client, the client also begins to see andbelieve in the worth and value of him or herself.

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