What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

Therapy can be a valuable tool for those in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). There are many different therapeutic approaches, from psychoanalysis to humanistic therapy, and choosing the one that’s right for you can be difficult. If you’re someone who thrives under your own direction, you might consider an approach called person-centered therapy. 

What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

In the traditional one-on-one therapy dynamic, the therapist is an active facilitator in the conversation. They usually ask questions, provide advice or alternative viewpoints, and prescribe changes to thought patterns or habits. The client relies on the therapist to steer the discussion and discover solutions to any issues that may arise.

Person-centered therapy aims to flip that dynamic on its head. The therapist takes on a more passive, non-authoritative role and allows the client to lead the sessions. The idea is that in the process of talking through their issues and questioning themself, the client will discover their own solutions. This approach was created by American psychologist Carl Rogers and is sometimes referred to as Rogerian therapy. Rogers believed in self-actualization which is the notion that each individual has a unique power to make the best changes for themself. He suggested that the client’s ability to manage their own world should be trusted. 

The therapist’s passive role may make their presence seem unnecessary, and certainly one can undertake a self-discussion like this on their own. However, the therapist is valuable in person-centered as a compassionate listener and encourager. Sometimes just having the dedicated time and space for self-reflection opens up ideas that were undiscovered before. Additionally, the social pressure of having another person in the room listening can spur on the process. Of course, the therapist is also there to help if you ever get stuck or need guidance. 

Person-Centered Therapy and Addiction Recovery

In cases of substance abuse, an individual often experiences self-inflicted feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings can lead to a defensive attitude in therapy settings, which may not be conducive to recovery. The application of person-centered therapy in addiction recovery is designed to combat this. By allowing the client to direct the conversation, they avoid the therapist taking on an authoritative role, which can be misconstrued as accusatory and give rise to defensiveness. In the person-centered approach, the only person accusing you is yourself. 

Your therapist will also act as a source of empathy and unconditional positive regard. This means that your therapist will never offer judgment or prescriptive advice. Instead, they will simply encourage you to keep talking through it while they give their emotional understanding and sincerity. 

Person-centered therapy always assumes that all people are inherently good. As someone with substance use issues, feelings of guilt and shame may hinder you from believing that about yourself. This low self-esteem can be an obstacle to your recovery. It is important that you believe you are someone who deserves a happy and healthy life without substance abuse. The person-centered approach can help you build your self-esteem and show you that you are deserving of recovery. 

Limitations of Person-Centered Therapy

This type of approach may not work for everyone. It’s important to choose the therapeutic route that you believe will be most effective for you. Laguna Shores Recovery Center will not force you into any therapy you don’t feel comfortable with. Additionally, all therapeutic approaches have their limitations. Person-centered therapy relies heavily on the client’s attitude, so it may not be helpful if you are someone who:

  • Is generally more pessimistic, or looks down on optimistic people 
  • Does not like to talk about yourself 
  • Believes that people are inherently bad
  • Feels out of touch with yourself 
  • Believes that your issues stem from unconscious or suppressed desires or memories

Since the person-centered approach relies so heavily on the client’s personality, therapists may utilize personality assessments. This is to help the therapist understand the client better and to stimulate the client to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing your own beliefs, goals, and values can be an important first step toward successful therapy. 

The person-centered approach is often regarded as much more fluid, lacking the structure and direction that some people thrive under. It has been criticized as being too leisurely and unfocused. The important thing to keep in mind here is that every person is different and grows under different circumstances. For some, the flexible and optimistic environment of person-centered therapy can be vital to their recovery. 

Choosing What’s Right for You

It is vital to your recovery that your treatment plan works for you. That means choosing a therapeutic approach that is conducive to your personality and goals. There’s no shame in trying something and admitting that it isn’t the right fit; that just means that you’re one step close to finding the perfect environment for your recovery. At Laguna Shores Recovery Center our priority is to work with you to find the best method to support your healing. 

Person-centered therapy creates an environment of empathy, optimism, and self-actualization. If you or someone you know might thrive under this approach, then it’s time to take the next step. At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, we believe that each individual is unique and deserves a unique treatment plan to help them become the person they want to be. Our therapists and mental health professionals specialize in the person-centered approach. We believe that everyone deserves to feel worthy of a life without addiction. Our goal is to help you take the reins on your own recovery and take the next step towards an addiction-free life. For more information or to set up an appointment, call us at (866) 774-1532.