Experts in Their Own Lives: Emphasizing Client-Centeredness in a Homeless Program



This paper presents a case study of a homeless organization in Burlington, Vermont that is dedicated to the principles of client-centeredness. Originated by psychologist Carl Rogers as a therapeutic philosophy, this approach has been applied in numerous social service and organizational settings. For this Vermont agency, client-centered practice entails the promotion of client empowerment and the responsible use of staff authority. Client participation in homeless programming is identified as one tool that may facilitate both client autonomy and a balance of staff-client power. Clients, staff, and administrators of this agency were interviewed to help explain the philosophy and practice of client-centeredness, as well as pitfalls of the client-centered approach. Hypotheses and future questions for research are also suggested.