Rogers (1959) postulated that in order for therapeutic growth to take place, the following conditions are necessary and sufficient. First, an anxious or vulnerable client must come into contact with a congruent therapist who also possesses empathy and unconditional positive regard for that client. Next, the client must perceive these characteristics in the therapist. Finally, the, contact between client and therapist must be of some duration.

The significance of the Rogerian hypothesis is revolutionary. With nearly any psychotherapy, the first and third conditions are present; that is, the client, or patient, is motivated by some sort of tension to seek help, and the relationship between the client and the therapist will last for some period of time. Client-centered therapy is unique in its insistence that the conditions of counselor congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic listening are both necessary and sufficient (Rogers, 1957).

Even though all three conditions are necessary for psychological growth, Rogers (1980) believed that congruence is more basic than either unconditional positive regard or empathic listening. Congruence is a general quality possessed by the therapist, whereas the other two conditions are specific feelings or attitudes that the therapist has for an hidividual client.

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