Rogerian Theory

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Carl Rogers contributed a great deal to not just psychology, but psychotherapy. He was raised in a relatively normal American family around the turn of the century. His later studies, subsequent clinical experience, and research lead him to the conclusion that all living beings strive for biological success. Humans also strive for this success but are often thwarted by society, giving rise to a real self and an ideal self. Disparages between these two selves gives rise to neurosis and psychosis. Rogerian therapy attempts to lead clients to self actualization, realizing what one’s real self desires, with passive and indirect assistance.

Personality Synopsis, Carl Rogers


The purpose of this article is to give a brief biography of Carl Rogers, an overview of his most influential theories, and the lasting impact of the man and his theories on clinical psychology. Rogers’ most influential theory was his person-centered approach to therapy. This approached has expanded to include such topics as leadership, education, and group work in general. Attachment 1 is my supplemental bibliography, listing multiple sources that I have attained information from during the courses of Psychology of Personality and Psychology of Adjustment, spring of 2008. Brief Biography

Born to an American family January 8, 1902, Carl Rogers was the typical boy of a typical American family of that time. In a suburb of Chicago, called Oak Park, the young Rogers was the son of a civil engineer in a religious Christian family. Later, the family would move to a farm where Rogers would endure the heavy load of chores and strict discipline that is needed for that way of life (Boeree, 2006).

Rogers would later choose to attend Wisconsin University to study Agriculture, and soon switching studies to religion. However, as most college students do, Rogers began to loose faith in the particulars of his religious upbringing, and eventually settled on Psychology as a career path. After receiving a B.A. at the University of Wisconsin, he would go on to receive a PhD in Psychotherapy at Chicago University (Boeree, 2006).

Rogers used his degree to help children through the Rochester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and then later he would become a professor at Ohio State University. Following this prestigious position, Rogers would go on to Professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin, become president of the American Association for Applied Psychology, the American Psychological Association and first president of the American Academy of Psychotherapist, Win the Nicholas Murray Butler Silver, become a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, be selected as the American Humanist of the year in 1964, and receive several honorary degrees from various Universities (Hall, 1997).

Obviously a very accomplished man, Rogers can attribute these honors mostly to his theory of Personality Development, a basis for what would later be called Client-Centered Therapy. The two main publications of Rogers’ that explained this theory were Client-Centered Therapy, and On Becoming a Person . The books emphasized the creation of a positive and non-judgmental environment during therapy, allowing the client to determine the speed and direction of their own psychological progression (Heffner, 2003). Theory Overview

In essence, Rogerian theory is based upon the simple idea of self preservation. All beings, from slugs to trees to humans, strive to better themselves. All life forms will attempt to achieve their greatest potential. This idea is called actualizing tendency. Actualizing tendency is the force that makes people eat well, exercise, learn, and find a mate. Every action is an attempt to better one’s self in this theory. However, this tendency towards self improvement has been corrupted (Boeree, 2006).

Humans satisfy this primordial need in ways that...
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