Person-Centered Therapy vs. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Photo of a woman sitting anxiously on a couch

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably struggled with some sort of behavior change, like exercising more regularly, better managing stress, or eating more healthfully. There are many benefits to working with someone else, whether it’s a therapist, counselor, or coach. While there is a relational quality to all types of counseling (a client/patient must want to talk and share with their therapist, after all!), approaches come in all shapes and sizes.

Person-centered therapy (PCT) is based on a foundation of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and authenticity. It assumes that people are naturally inclined toward positive growth and that they have a great capacity for self understanding and modifying their behavior and attitudes, given the right environment/climate/support.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), on the other hand, is based on the assumption that most problems are a result of negative thoughts, which means that existing cognitive patterns must be altered in order to move past emotional or behavioral issues.

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