Person-centered/experiential psychotherapy for anxiety difficulties: theory, research and practice

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Anxiety difficulties are an increasingly important focus for person-centered/experiential (PCE) psychotherapies. I begin by reviewing person-centered, focusing-oriented, and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) theories of anxiety. Next, I summarize a meta-analysis of 19 outcome studies of PCE therapies for adults with anxiety, most commonly supportive or person-centered therapies (PCT) carried out by cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) researchers. The results indicate large pre-post change but a clear inferiority to CBT. I then summarize promising early results from an ongoing study of PCT and EFT for social anxiety, which show large amounts of pre-post change for both forms of PCE therapy but substantially more change for clients in the EFT condition. I conclude with a discussion of the implications for PCE therapy practice, including the value of process differentiation and the possibility of developing more effective PCE approaches for anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-32
Number of pages17
JournalPerson-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • anxiety
  • person-centred-experiential therapy
  • outcome research
  • emotion-focused therapy
  • EFT
  • person-centered therapies
  • PCT
  • PCE

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