Carl Rogers - Person-Centred Therapy

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Describe Rogers’ theory with attention to the following four areas: * General theory/philosophy
* Theory of personality
* Acquisition of dysfunction
* “Treatment” of dysfunction

This essay will begin by introducing Carl Rogers, with a brief description of his upbringing and career background and will go on to discuss the main areas of his theory. The humanistic philosophy will be explained briefly and will lead on to Carl Rogers’ own humanistic beliefs and the birth of client-centred therapy. Carl Rogers’ theory of the human personality will be explored, mainly Rogers’ idea of self and the self-concept and a person’s natural actualising tendency. This will lead on to his beliefs around the acquisition of human dysfunction, primarily being the imposed conditions of worth present from birth and a person’s internal locus of evaluation becoming external. This will then be brought to Rogers’ main theories of the “treatments” for these dysfunctions, concentrating on his six necessary and sufficient conditions within a therapeutic relationship and the positive effects these have on the client. The essay will then be brought to a conclusion, drawing together the main points and ideas from the essay. Carl Ransom Rogers was born on January 8th 1902 in Chicago, USA. He was one of six children who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family. While he once felt he was called to become a Christian minister he eventually went on to embark on a career as a clinical psychologist. Rogers found it increasingly difficult to adapt to the ideas of behaviourism and psychoanalysis so he began to formulate his own ideas from his personal experience with clients and thus created client-centred therapy (Thorne, 2003). The person-centred approach is a part of the group of approaches referred to as ‘humanistic psychology.’ Humanistic psychology takes a phenomenological approach to the person. It is concerned with the human as an organic being and values human nature above the more scientific theories. It focuses on how the person experiences and perceives themselves and the world around them, whilst also believing the person to be continually in a process of growth. It also takes an existential view of life, valuing the person’s autonomy and personal responsibility (Merry, 2002). According to Richard Gross, humanistic theories are concerned with characteristics that are distinctly and uniquely human. He describes how we have first-hand experience of ourselves as people and therefore are the experts on understanding our own behaviour. He also explains that Rogers himself saw human nature in a very optimistic light and believed that people are generally good and healthy (Gross, 2010). A main humanistic belief is that of the actualizing tendency. Rogers himself believed this was a natural part of every human and that it was the single motivation present in every human being to maintain itself, grow, improve and move towards their full potential (Mearns and Thorne, 2007). He also described it as “…the tendency of the organism to maintain itself – to assimilate food, to behave defensively in the face of threat, to achieve the goal of self-maintenance even when the usual pathway to that goal is blocked. We are speaking of the tendency of the organism to move in the direction of maturation, as maturation is defined for each species” (Rogers, 1951 cited in Mearns and Thorne, 2007). It is clear that he believed it was the fundamental force that drives the person towards fulfilment and development. Rogers’ also had many beliefs around the human personality. Lawrence A. Pervin explains that the main concept in Rogers’ theory of personality is that of the self and the self-concept. Rogers believed that the individual perceives experiences and objects in the world around them and attaches meaning and value to them. The complete system of these perceptions is known as the person’s phenomenal field. Pervin then goes on to explain “Those parts of...
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