Rogers model of counselling skills

Carl Rogers developed Person-centered therapy in the 1940s. Rogers model of counselling skills also known as names person centered approach, nondirective counselling and client centered counselling. Rogers work regarded as one of the principal forces in shaping current counselling and psychotherapy.

  • In Rogers model of client centered therapy, human beings posses goodness and the desire to become fully functioning i.e. to live as effectively as possible.
  • According to Rogers model, if people develop freely, they will flourish and become positive, achieving individuals.
  • Because Rogers’s theory expresses faith in human nature, it is considered as humanistic approach to counselling.
  • Rogers model of client centered therapy is based on a theory of personality referred to as self-theory.
  • An individual’s view of self within the context of environment influences his actions and personal satisfactions.
  • If provided with a nurturing environment, people will grow with confidence toward self-actualization.
  • If they do not receive love and support from significant others, they will likely to see themselves as lacking in worth and see others as untrustworthy.
  • Behavior will become defensive and growth toward self actualization will be hampered.
  • Thus, the client centered therapist’s perception of people is based on four key beliefs:
    People are trustworthy
    People innately move toward self – actualization and health
    They have the inner resources to move themselves in positive directions and
    People respond to their uniquely perceived world.


Goals of Rogers model of Client Centered Therapy.

  • Person centered therapy, also known as client centered, non directive, or Rogerian therapy.
  • It is an approach to counseling and psychotherapy that places much of the responsibility for the treatment process on the client, with the therapist taking a nondirective role.
  • The goal of client centered therapy is to provide a safe, caring environment where clients get in closer touch with essential positive elements of themselves that have been hidden or distorted.
  • Moreover, less distortion and more congruence lead to greater trust that their organism can be relied on for effective reactions to people and situations.
  • Two primary goals of person centered therapy are, increasing self esteem and greater openness to experience. Some of the related changes that this form of therapy seeks to foster in clients include:
    1. Closer agreement between the client’s idealized and actual selves
    2. Better self-understanding
    3. Lower levels of defensiveness, guilt, and insecurity
    4. More positive and comfortable relationships with others and
    5. An increased capacity to experience and express feelings at the moment they occur.
  • Person centered therapy focuses on the person, not on the person’s presenting problem.
  • Goal is to assist clients in their growth so they are better able to cope with both today’s problems and future problems.
  • The basic drive to fulfillment implies that people move toward health if the way seems open for them to do so.
  • Thus, the goals of counseling are to set clients free and to create those conditions that will enable them to engage in meaningful self-exploration.
  • Moreover, general goals of therapy are:
    1. Becoming more open to experience,
    2. Achieving self-trust,
    3. Developing an internal source of evaluation,
    4. Being willing to continually grow.

Rogers model of the Counselling Process

  • The core conditions of counselling as described by Rogers are empathy, unconditional positive regard and also congruence or genuineness considered necessary and sufficient for therapeutic personality change.
  • The Person Centered approach remains one of the most popular forms of psychological counselling.
  • It provides a frame of reference as much as if not more than a counselling method.
  • However, in Carl Rogers’ original perspective, clients (as all people) engage continually in the attempt to self-actualize.
  • The core conditions are necessary and sufficient for clients to experience therapeutic change. They are (Carkhuff1969):
    1. Unconditional positive regard
    2. Empathic understanding
    3. Genuineness and congruence
    4. Transparency
    5. Self disclosure
    6. Concreteness
    7. Cultural awareness
  • Creating trust in the helping relationship is a fundamental tenet of all Person Centered therapy. Not only must the client learn to trust the counsellor, but also the counsellor must trust that the client is the best person to set their own goals and access their own resources to achieve them.

1. Unconditional positive regard.

    • People need love acceptance, respect and warmth from others but unfortunately these attitudes and feelings are often given conditionally.
    • As many people who come into counselling have experienced these attitudes, Rogers believed that counsellors should convey unconditional positive regard or warmth towards clients if they are to feel understood and accepted.
    • This means that clients are valued without any conditions attached even when they experience themselves as negative, bad, frightened or abnormal.
    • When attitudes and of warmth and acceptance are present in counselling, clients are likely to accept themselves and become more confident in their own abilities to cope.

2. Empathic understanding.

  • It refers to the counsellor’s ability to understand the client at a deep level.
  • Rogers refers to the internal frame of reference to denote the client’s unique experience of personal problems.
  • In order to stay within the client’s internal frame of reference, it is necessary for the counsellor to listen carefully to what is being conveyed (both verbally and nonverbally) at every stage of counselling.
  • Once the counsellor understands the feelings and experiences of the client, the same thing needs to be communicated to the client.
  • Rogers also uses the term external frame of reference to describe the lack of understanding and contact.
  • When a counsellor perceives the client from an external frame of reference, there is little chance that the client’s view will be clearly heard. This does not help the client to benefit from counselling.

3. Genuineness and congruence.

  • The Person Centered Therapy relationship must always be an honest one.
  • The counselor needs to be real and true in the relationship.
  • Individuals who cannot accept others (i.e. because of personal values and beliefs they hold rigidly and apply to all), or who will not listen and try to understand cannot do Person Centered Therapy.
  • The therapist must embody the attitudinal quality of genuineness and to experience empathic understanding from the client’s internal frame of reference and to experience unconditional positive regard towards the client.
  • When the client perceives the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard, the actualising tendency of the client is promoted.
  • Congruence means that the counsellor is authentic and genuine.
  • The counsellor does not present an aloof professional facade, but is present and transparent to the client.
  • There is no air of authority or hidden knowledge, and the client does not have to speculate about what the counsellor is ‘really like’.

4. Transparency.

  • Transparency means even negative feelings about a client, if any exist, are expressed.
  • The therapist shows a non-possessive feeling of love for the client and is able to, after a time, be empathetic enough to understand the client enough to metaphorically walk in the individual’s shoes.

5. Self disclosure.

Self disclosure and self expression are most likely to be helpful to the client and the therapeutic relationship when

    • They are relevant to client and the client’s present experiencing.
    • They are a response to the client’s experience.
    • A reaction to the client is persistent and particularly striking.
    • However, in response to the questions and requests from the client, the therapist answers openly and honestly and helps dispel the mystique.
    • When it seems the client wants to ask a question but does not directly voices it.
    • To make an empathic observation – that is to express a perception of an aspect of the client’s communication or emotional expression
    • Furthermore, to correct for loss of acceptance or empathy or incongruence.
    • To offer insights and ideas.

6. Concreteness

  • The next condition, concreteness, is the counsellor’s skill in focusing the client’s discussion on specific events, thoughts and feelings that matter while discouraging intellectualized story telling.
  • Concreteness is a precaution against the rambling that can occur when the other three conditions employ without sufficient attention to identifying the client’s themes.
  • If the counsellor is totally accepting of each client as a person, relates emphatically to the client’s reality and behaves in a genuine way, the client will be free to discover and express the positive core of his being.
  • Moreover, as clients come to perceive themselves more positively in the nurturing environment, they will function more effectively.
  • Counsellors not only provide the nurturing environment that is missing in client’s lives but also serve as role models of how fully functioning persons relate with others.

7. Cultural awareness.

  • In Culture-Centered Counseling, recognizing the centrality of culture can augment therapy as well as result in effective treatment of all clients.
  • This approach also involves recognizing cultural assumptions and acquiring knowledge and skills to get beyond them, something that may be done no matter what treatment model a therapist might use.
  • Cultural awareness means being cognizant of culture differences that may use different standards for loudness, speed of delivery, spatial distance, silence, eye contact, gestures, attentiveness and response rate during communication.

All this may seem like a lot to consider. But the tips for considering cross cultural communication are really very basic:

  1. Use common words
  2. Follow basic words of grammar
  3. Avoid slang
  4. Repeat basic ideas without shouting
  5. Paraphrase important points
  6. Check for understanding

Gladding, S. T. (2018). Counselling: A Comprehensive profession (9th Edn). Pearson.

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