What is client-centered therapy?

Client-centered therapy is also known as person-centered therapy or the Rogerian style of therapy. Carl Rogers developed it more than 70 years ago. He’s considered one of the most influential psychotherapists in history.

During client-centered therapy, your therapist won’t focus on providing specific interpretations or guidance. Rather, they will offer empathy, acceptance, respect, and unconditional support. This may help you feel empowered and capable of finding solutions to your own problems. An accepting and empathic relationship with your therapist may help you become more self-aware and self-reliant.

Your doctor may recommend client-centered therapy if you have depression.

During client-centered therapy, your therapist won’t subject your feelings and behaviors to analytic interpretation. Rather, they will act as a companion on your journey as you cope with life’s problems.

“You’re focused on being empathically in tune with patients’ objective experience and helping them in a fairly non-direct way to get more in touch with their emotional subjective experience,” Jeffrey L. Binder, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Argosy University in Atlanta, told Healthline.

This method of therapy is meant to be adapted to each patient. Your therapist won’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they will honor and respect your autonomy, choices, and values. They will focus on creating an atmosphere of acceptance and safety. This allows you to play an active role in your own therapeutic process.

Your therapist will expect you to take initiative in several ways. For example, you’ll likely be asked to:

  • choose the topics to be discussed during sessions
  • navigate and find solutions to the problems you face
  • decide how often you meet with your therapist and when to stop therapy

Client-centered therapy is typically conducted in one-on-one sessions. In some cases, you may participate in client-centered group therapy sessions.

Your doctor may recommend client-centered therapy if you have depression. It may also help you cope with other conditions or situations, such as:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • interpersonal relationship problems
  • unhappiness in work or at home
  • physical or sexual abuse

If you suspect you have depression, or you’re struggling to cope with life challenges, talk to your doctor. They may recommend client-centered therapy.

With client-centered therapy, “you mirror back with what the patients says,” Janie L. Darwin, Psy.D., a psychologist and psychoanalyst in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Healthline.

“I think part of the reason it works well is because by mirroring back what the patient says, the therapist conveys an understanding of what the patient is going through. It’s based on the premise that the more someone feels understood, the more they tell you.

And if someone is depressed and you’re paying attention to them, they’re going to, in some way, feel better. You tend to isolate yourself with depression. This gives you a message of having some self-worth.”

If you’re coping with depression or another mental health challenge, your doctor may recommend client-centered therapy. During this method of treatment, your therapist will offer empathy, acceptance, and respect. Rather than prescribing solutions to your problems, they empower you to develop your own. Talk to your doctor to learn more about this treatment option.