School of Education

Person-Centred Therapies

This new article, co-authored by Dr David Murphy,  has been published by Oxford Bibliographies.


The foundations of this humanistic approach to counselling and psychotherapy were laid down in the 1940s by Carl Rogers in the United States. While this approach has seen the evolution of names ascribed to it (eg non-directive counseling, client-centered therapy, person-centered therapy etc), the essential guiding philosophy has been based upon a deep trust in each individual’s capacity for resilience and growth within the context of a “helping” relationship (where both persons are in psychological contact). Such a relationship was characterized by particular attitudinal elements of the therapist (unconditional positive regard, authenticity, and empathic understanding) and the client’s psychological processes (current in-authenticity causing vulnerability or anxiety and their perception of the therapist’s intentions). Rogers recognized the importance of client experience as a reliable referent in personal change and development. His publication of several key texts in the 1950s proved influential within the field of counseling and psychotherapy and helped to disseminate the core philosophy, theoretical ideas, and emerging research outcomes emanating from the practice of client-centered therapy (as it was then known). As a theory grounded within the context of interpersonal relationships, Rogers later expanded his theory building to the settings of family relationships, education, small group and large group work, and to groups in conflict. From early in his career Rogers was a keen researcher, and such research activity expanded considerably upon his move into the university sector where he stimulated innovative approaches and vigorous research programs into the counseling/psychotherapy process, frequently involving other colleagues who went on to develop specific applications of this relational approach that included play therapy, conflict resolution, student-centered teaching, and group-centered leadership and administration. Person-centered therapy has continued to grow and develop in the intervening decades with the addition of a wide range of theoretical and clinical postulates, with the development of differing named “tribes” of theoretical practice sharing common values and the re-invigoration of impressive research activity. The following sections also demonstrate clearly that this field of professional psychotherapeutic practice continues to grow apace around the world as evidenced by the publication of many new books, chapters, and articles.

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Posted on Monday 30th October 2017

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