Elysian Sober Services

How Person-Centered Therapy Works & What To Expect

How Person-Centered Therapy Works & What To Expect

There are several therapeutic approaches to take on the path to achieving and maintaining sobriety. One such option is known as person-centered therapy. And that’s what we’re going to discuss in this post! We’ll talk about what exactly person-centered therapy means, as well as its central concepts, how it can help, and much more.

What Is Person-Centered Therapy?

Let’s begin with this definition from Choosing Therapy:

“Person-centered therapy, also known as client-centered therapy, is one of the major models of psychotherapy practiced worldwide. The therapist offers support, guidance, and structure to enable the client to discover their own personal solutions to their problems. It is effective for a range of client problems, and primarily for anxiety and depression.”

They go on to explain,

“Person-centered therapy is based upon the underlying belief that every person has both the ability and the desire to reach their potential through personal growth and change. This natural inclination is called the self-actualizing tendency. The ability to self-actualize derives from a person’s capacity for self-understanding and for changing their own self-concepts, as well as attitudes and behaviors. The interactions between the therapist and client facilitate this change.”

What’s particularly interesting about this option is how it leads the client on a journey of self-discovery. By allowing them to discover and realize things about themselves without forcing these realizations, lasting change can come. 

Unlike other forms of therapy, the client can self-direct the therapist does not direct the client throughout the course of therapy. Rather, they simply facilitate this self-discovery. At the same time, the therapist takes a unique approach based on each client’s unique needs and circumstances. 

Central Concepts of Person-Centered Therapy

Person-centered therapy can be particularly useful for those overcoming addiction issues or who are currently in recovery. 

There are three central concepts behind the philosophy of this therapeutic practice. As you will see, each one of them can be incredibly beneficial for those on the path to recovery.

Unconditional Positive Regard

Unlike many traditional forms of therapy where the therapist is the expert, person-centered therapy puts the client in the driver’s seat. They are the expert on themselves, and this form of therapy simply guides them to discover and harness this power. 

As such, the therapist needs to offer complete acceptance, no matter what the client says. For those in recovery who may struggle with heavy feelings of guilt, this acceptance can be hard to come by otherwise. 

Unfortunately, the guilt that comes from disappointing someone often leads to further temptation or substance abuse. But in person-centered therapy, acceptance and non-judgment can provide a sense of relief the client hasn’t felt in years. 

Not only will the therapist not judge the client or show any disapproval of their action, but they will also show the client that they are valuable regardless of any of the things they have done. 

In time, this leads to the client becoming accepting of themselves in the same way. 


The second central concept is empathy, or the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. 

In client-centered therapy, you can see why this is important. To refrain from judgment, the therapist must understand the client and where they’re coming from. With this understanding, comes empathy. For many addicts or those in recovery, this type of empathy and understanding isn’t something they can find with their friends and family. 


Finally, we come to congruence; AKA: genuineness. Congruence is necessary for person-centered therapy to create a sense of transparency and trustworthiness. It’s easy to see through someone when they aren’t being genuine. When it comes to client-centered therapy when empathy and unconditional regard are critical, they can’t exist without congruence. This calls for the therapist to be open and honest with the client and the client doing the same.

What Can Person-Centered Therapy Help With?

We’ve talked a bit about person-centered therapy and how it can be beneficial to those in recovery. Let’s explore the ways person-centered therapy can help, and whether it might be right for you. 

Besides helping those in recovery, there are several conditions and circumstances wherein this approach is particularly useful:

  • Anxiety and psychosis
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Negative thoughts related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Next, let’s talk more about this option for those in recovery from substance abuse. 

Substance Abuse and Client-Centered Therapy

For many people in recovery or hoping to be in recovery, there is a lot of guilt and focus on the substance(s) they use and the associated behaviors. In person-centered therapy, the client can shift the focus from these things and view themselves as a whole. 

Not only is it important to examine addictive behaviors, but this modality also explores all of the things that led to these behaviors and addictions. Often, this includes any self-esteem and self-image issues that may have been present for years. Until person-centered therapy begins, the client may have no idea where these feelings or behaviors come from.

For many people who struggle with addiction, their well-meaning friends and family simply cannot understand or relate no matter how hard they try. When the client goes to these people for support or guidance, it may not be well-received. Person-centered therapists have special training for listening and understanding with empathy. These are skills that can be hard to come by in friends and family, which makes this type of therapy particularly valuable. 

Common Questions

Do you still have questions about this type of therapy? Do you mind finding the answers below!

How does person-centered therapy differ from other types of therapy?

If you’ve been to therapy before, there’s a good chance you were guided in some way by the therapist. But with person-centered therapy, you’re the one in charge. The client can direct the course of the session and the topics discussed.

Why do you say client instead of patient?

By now, you’ve probably noticed it’s known as “person” centered therapy rather than patient-centered. This is no accident! 

Carl Rogers, who developed this theory, chose this term for an important reason. Using the term ‘person’ or ‘client’ rather than ‘patient’ helps keep the client and the therapist on an equal playing ground. In this type of therapy when openness and congruence are important, this is an important and helpful distinction. 

What are the six conditions of successful therapeutic change?

Carl Rogers also outlines six conditions that are necessary for successful therapeutic change:

  1. Two persons are in psychological contact.
  2. The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable or anxious.
  3. The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship.
  4. The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.
  5. The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this experience to the client.
  6. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved.

Extra Support

Person-centered therapy can be an unbelievably positive influence on those in recovery. In most cases, a multi-faceted approach is useful, including enlisting the help of sober coaches, companions, and escorts. At Elysian Sober Services, these are all roles we are proud to fulfill. Additionally, we can direct you to person-centered therapists and other helpful resources on your path to recovery. 

Do you want to learn more about the therapeutic modalities available to you? Or are you curious to learn about what sober companions do and how they help?

We should talk. At Elysian Sober Services, we aim to educate the community by inspiring others and engaging in a serene lifestyle. 

We are committed to helping people who suffer from alcoholism and addiction to live a clean and sober lifestyle. We are located here in sunny South Florida and provide one on one support with meetings, health, nutrition, transportation, and spiritual guidance to help maintain sobriety.

Call us today to learn more. 

Elysian Sober Services

Elysian Sober Services

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