Carl Rogers is one of the pre-eminent psychologist of the twentieth century, founder of the client cantered approach to therapy he was able to break with conventions of his time and create new approaches. The work of Rogers was recognised in 1956 when he received the American Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions (Faber, 1998). In a 2002 study, which used a qualitative approach to examine the work of different psychologists of the twentieth century using a range of measures including the publications and citations in which they have appeared and recognition, Rogers was determined be the sixth most important psychologists of the twentieth century (Haggbloom et al, 2002). In terms of the clinical psychologists he was deemed to be only the second most pre-eminent practitioner, behind Sigmund Freud (Haggbloom et al, 2002). There are also other recognitions, for example in 1964 the American Humanist Association chose him as humanist of the year. The importance and application of his work can be seen in the way the theories of not being limited only to the field of psychology, his ideas have been expanded into other areas including becoming a well recognised educational theory (Thorne, 2003). To appreciate the significance of Rogers' achievements, it is necessary to look at both his life and his work.
Carl Rogers, was born, Carl Ronsom Rogers, in Illinois on the 8th of January 1902, the fourth out of six children. His family were middle-class Pentecostal Christians, with his father, Walter, being a civil engineer, wild his mother, Julia was a housewife who stayed at home to look after her family (Thorne, 2003).
As a child Rogers demonstrated a high level of intelligence, he was able to read before he went to kindergarten. From an early age Rogers lived in a strict background, with ethical values learned from the family's religious background, which is likely to have helped nurture his personal disciplined approach. As Rogers matured he started demonstrating interest in applying scientific methods to practical issues. His early career aspirations will not focus towards psychology, but agriculture, history and religion. In 1920 he started to attend a seminary. However, in 1922 following a trip to a Christian conference in China, Rogers started to suffer from self-doubt in terms of his religious beliefs. It was following attendance at a seminar later in the year, called "Why Am I Entering the Ministry?" that he made the decision to follow a different career path.
Rogers gained his BA from University of Wisconsin in 1924, and in 1928 completed his MA at Columbia University. It was while he was studying for his doctorate that his career in psychology begins in earnest, undertaking a study of children. At the same time as completing his Ph.D. Rogers started to work as a director for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children located in Rochester New York. In 1931 he successfully completed his Ph.D. Rogers stayed in academia, lecturing and University of Rochester between 1935 and 1940, at the same time as embarking on research and utilising research to formulate theories and ideas. One of his early articles was published in 1939, entitled "The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child". This work was based on his own experiences and the workings undertaking with troubled children. During his practice his ideas and approach were heavily influenced by the work of Otto Rank, a post-Freudian psychotherapist, who was already moving towards the acceptance and embracing of emotional aspects of individuals during therapy, rather than utilising the more clinical psychoanalysis approach is a Freud (Kramer, 1995).
Otto Rank, an Australian psychoanalyst, was a former colleague of Sigmund Freud built on Freud ideas, including the development ideas associated by separation anxiety and hypothesised of a developmental stage prior to the emergence of the Oedipus complex. Some of the Ranks ideas...
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