Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy
Humanism refers to a psychological strategy that looks into a person as a whole and focuses on their uniqueness. It was developed as a rebellion to behaviorist and psychodynamic approaches. Humanistic approaches stress conscious awareness instead of unconscious conflict and the importance of therapists to comprehend their clients’ heuristic worlds (Kramer et al., 2014). An example of a humanistic approach is Carl Rogers’ person-centered psychotherapy. Its focus is to develop the required conditions for clients to take part in profound self-exploration of their beliefs, feelings, perceptions, and behavior to facilitate growth and the capacity to deal with existing and future problems. The overall premise of this theory is that people are on the whole trustworthy, ingenious, able to understand and direct themselves, capable of making positive changes to lead productive lives. The attributes of the therapist determine the therapeutic relationship and the upshots of the therapeutic process. This paper discusses healthy functioning, personal factors that can cause dysfunction, attainment of growth, intervention techniques, and drawbacks of Carl Rogers’ person-centered psychotherapy. The relationship of the theory with personal traits, values, and views about human nature are also discussed.
Healthy Functioning/Development According to Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy
Rogers considers a wholly functioning individual as one who is aware of their secret feelings and longings. Such a person comprehends their emotions and trusts their intuitions and impulses. The attainment of healthy functioning requires unconditional positive regard and self-actualization. Unconditional positive regard refers to categorical tolerance, love, or esteem (Greene, 2017). The main difference between unconditional love and unconditional positive regard is that the latter does not require real feelings of tenderness and affection. Instead, it requires an individual to be accommodating and friendly, even if the other party has done debatable deeds.
Rogers asserted that people need to reach their maximum potential. This phenomenon is what is referred to as self-actualization. It involves reaching the highest point of psychological development, accomplishment, and contentment. Humans have inherent resources to understand themselves and change their perceptions, attitudes, and behavior. However, these resources can be exploited in the presence of a climate that enables psychological attitudes (Proctor et al., 2016). Therefore, fully functional individuals are always striving to become self-actualized. A healthy functioning individual does not impose conditions on their worth, can convey their feelings freely, and is receptive to life’s experiences. In other words, they have accepted “existential living” by maximizing every moment and opportunity. As a result, they attain inner freedom, accept creativity, exhilaration, and contests.
Characteristics or Factors Regarding Persons that Can Result in Dysfunction
Healthy-functioning individuals have specific traits that help them to be cognizant of their emotions and accept their requirements for personal growth. These attributes include receptive to new experiences, the lack of defensiveness, the capacity to construe experiences accurately, possess categorical self-regard, and the ability to live cordially with other people. They should be flexible and capable of adapting to various situations. Additionally, they should accept constructive feedback and be willing to make the necessary changes. Being open to experiences implies that negative and positive emotions are embraced. The ability to work through negative encounters and learn from them promotes healthy functioning. In contrast, turning to ego defense machinery is detrimental and may result in dysfunction.
Other characteristics include experiential living, creativity, and fulfilled life. Experiential living is having an intuitive awareness of various happenings as they occur. It involves appreciating the present without dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Creativity refers to taking risks to explore new experiences and opportunities, whereas living a fulfilled life means that one is happy and contented. A person should always trust their gut feelings and the ability to make the right decisions. Dysfunction happens when poor self-perception or outside constraints supersede the valuing process.
How Change and Growth Occur as Described by Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Psychotherapy
Change and growth occur as an individual self-actualizes. Rogers alleged that self-actualization can only be attained if a person is in a state of congruence, which implies that the person’s idyllic self corresponds to their real self-image (Proctor et al., 2016). Growth within an individual is promoted by six factors: perception of the client, therapist empathy, unconditional positive regard from the counselor, psychological contact between psychotherapist and client, genuineness of the counselor, and client vulnerability. The client should be able to perceive empathy and unconditional positive regard from the therapist as communicated through words and actions. Psychoanalyst empathy denotes the ability to exhibit an empathic understanding of the client’s experiences or situation without emotional involvement. The psychotherapist should be able to visualize things from the patient’s perspective.
The therapist should accept the client’s good and bad experiences devoid of preconditions or judgment. Consequently, the client can express themselves freely without the fear of judgment. There needs to be a relationship between the client and psychoanalyst for the attainment of positive personal change. In contrast, client vulnerability refers to fears and apprehensions that ensue from incongruence or discrepancy between their self-perception and real experiences. Genuineness of the therapist denotes congruence, which means that the psychoanalyst should be true to themselves within the remedial relationship. Being authentic establishes trust and encourages patients to be true to themselves, which results in a positive therapeutic relationship. However, this factor does not exemplify perfection.
Intervention Techniques that Facilitate Change or Growth within the Theory
Client-centered therapy offers a reassuring environment for clients to recreate their true identity. Currently, client-centered therapy uses a nondirective, humane methodology that emboldens and enables the client during the therapeutic process without the direct involvement of the therapist. One of the techniques used is nondirectiveness, which alludes to permitting clients to be the focal point of the psychoanalysis session without any advice, activities, or execution of strategies (Murphy & Joseph, 2016). The second technique is empathy, which requires the counselor to show an understanding of the client’s feelings. However, therapists need to be cautious to avoid showing sympathy. The key difference between empathy and sympathy is that sympathy involves feeling sorry for the patient and encouraging self-pity, whereas empathy motivates the client to open up.
Another technique is unconditional positive regard, which requires the therapist to be receptive and non-judgmental. Nevertheless, the psychotherapist does not need to consent to everything that is done or said by the client. Instead, the counselor should presume that the client is doing their best and show this by expressing concern instead of disagreeing with them. Person-centered therapy involves congruence. The counselors should ensure that their body language and speech match. Any confusion should be clarified as soon as they occur. Additional techniques used in person-centered therapy include open questions, rephrasing, rumination of feelings, and applying words of encouragement.
Drawbacks or Issues with Carl Rogers’ Person-Centered Therapy
The shortcomings of Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy stem from its humanistic approach, which has been applied in areas such as abnormality, therapy, personality, and motivation. It has a limited impact on academic psychology due to its adoption of a non-scientific approach to investigating humans (Greene, 2017). The theory lacks empirical evidence from research. The all-inclusive approach of humanity permits vast variation but does not pinpoint adequate unchangeable variables that can be investigated with precision. This shortcoming can be attributed to the use of untestable ideas such as congruence and self-actualization.
The theory is disapproved because of low levels of effectiveness in the treatment of serious mental health issues, refutation of pertinent behaviorist and psychoanalytic ideas, as well as numerous oversimplifications about humans. Psychotherapists also argue that the theory has a radical focus on the biased experiences of the individual, which does not consider or account for the influence of society on the development of personality. Another shortcoming of the theory is the ambiguity of its concepts. Personal ideas, for instance, real experiences cannot be actualized. One person may consider an experience real, whereas a different person may regard the same experience and inconsequential.
The humanistic approach that entrenches Rogers’ person-centered therapy is considered ethnocentric. Most concepts that are fundamental to humanistic psychology, for example, autonomy, personal freedom, and growth are easily linked to individualistic Western cultures. Communist cultures that underscore the value of interdependence and team effort may not identify with the principles of humanistic psychology, including Rogers’ person-centered theory. Therefore, the theory is considered an invention of the cultural milieu in which it was established.
How the Theory Fits with the Personality, Values, Style, and Ideas about Human Nature
The author’s initial view of human nature was that humans are unique beings with distinct ways of acting, feeling, and thinking. Therefore, each individual needed to be regarded as distinct and handled in ways that match their beliefs, attitudes, and outlooks. This theory has redirected this thinking to the concepts of innovativeness and the need for self-actualization that apply to all humans. The author’s values include the client’s integrity and autonomy, respect for individuals as well as universal human rights. The person-centered approach to therapy described by Carl Rogers fits with these values.
A self-assessment of the author’s personality traits reveals qualities such as self-awareness, empathy, flexibility, and good communication skills. These characteristics align with the theory’s expectations of counselors. According to Carl Rogers, therapists should be congruent, empathic, and nonjudgmental (Kramer et al., 2014). Self-awareness enables psychoanalyst congruence, whereas good communication skills, which include being a keen listener, give the impression that the therapist is understanding and empathetic. Overall, the theory informs the author’s clinical approach by combining research facts about human behavior and mental processes to understand the clients’ views and help them to overcome their challenges.
Humanistic psychotherapists perceive humans as innovative beings who are capable of growth. If provided with the right environment, humans can redirect their behavior towards the attainment of their maximum potential. Dysfunction arises as a result of conflicts in awareness or limitations on the actuality that can be removed through different therapeutic experiences. Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy highlights self-actualization and unconditional positive regard as the two important client concepts that determine healthy functioning. In contrast, therapists should possess three crucial qualities of congruence, empathic understanding, and unconditional positive regard to create a positive environment that promotes growth. The theory influences the author’s personality by enhancing the cultivation of empathy and a non-judgmental attitude to encourage growth in clients.
Kramer, G., Bernstein, D. & Phares, V. (2014). Introduction to Clinical Psychology (8th ed.). Pearson Education.
Greene, R. R. (2017). Human behavior theory and social work practice (3rd ed.). Routledge.
Proctor, C., Tweed, R., & Morris, D. (2016). The Rogerian fully functioning person: A positive psychology perspective. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 56(5), 503-529. Web.
Murphy, D., & Joseph, S. (2016). Person-centered therapy: Past, present, and future orientations. In D. J. Cain, K. Keenan, & S. Rubin (Eds.), Humanistic psychotherapies: Handbook of research and practice (pp. 185–218). American Psychological Association.