Self Concept

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A Discussion and Critical Evaluation on How Person-centred Theorists View Concepts of the Self Introduction
As children grow they start to learn about themselves through their relationships with others and psychologists have evidenced how their ideas of themselves are significantly influenced by other people’s ideas and reactions to them. Dowling (2008) suggests that a child’s level of confidence is affected by their early experiences, successes and failures and it is recognised that a child’s confidence is linked closely to three factors: becoming aware of the self (self concept), developing one’s identity (self esteem) and learning about one’s own strengths and weaknesses (self knowledge). Psychologists refer to how, during early childhood, the self concept undergoes a major change and sees the start of the lifelong process of self-discovery. From childhood to adolescence many changes take place both physically and mentally. These changes involve continuing increases in the complexity of sensorimotor skills and substantial body changes and the self concept shifts from self-centred to an increasing awareness of others (Dowling, 2008). The emergence of a coherent and positive self-concept is undeniably a critical aspect of social and emotional development (Dowling, 2008) and for Rogers, the theory of the self was central in his theory of personality. From a counselling perspective, person-centred theorists support this notion and believe that many of the successes and failures that people experience in life are closely related to the ways they have learned to view themselves and their relationships with others and the idea of the self concept is fundamental to person centred theory.

This essay will discuss Rogers’ theory of personality and critically evaluate how person-centred theorists view concepts of the self and how my own self concept has been formed through childhood experiences. Critically Evaluating Concepts of the Self

Since Rogers introduced his concept of what is now known as Person Centred theory during the 1950s, it has formed the basis for many counselling approaches (Mearns and Thorne, 2007). Carl Rogers believed that humans have an inherent drive to know and express the self (McLeod, 2000) which results in the development of an idea of who are they are (self concept) and an idea of who they want to be (the core self). Most of us are never aware of our self-concept until it is pointed out to us but as we grow and develop, it is argued that our self-concept changes and develops itself over time as it shapes itself as a result of the environment we are in. Rogers discovered that the self concept can become distorted or damaged depending on whether the environment is of a positive or negative influence. Franken (1994) states that the self concept is the basis for all behaviour. By recognising how susceptible the self concept is to change, it is understandable why person centered therapists view it as being a fundamental aspect of the therapeutic relationship as it focuses solely on the needs of the client. According to human psychologists, such as Rogers and Abraham Maslow, humans have an inherent drive to know and express the self, resulting in the development of a self concept (an idea or picture we have of ourselves), it is the way we see ourselves and affects our levels of self-esteem and confidence depending on whether we have a negative or positive view of ourselves (Nelson-Jones, 1995). Rogers’ personality theory describes the self concept as being in three parts. Firstly, the view we have of ourselves (self image); secondly, how much value we place on ourselves (self esteem) and thirdly, the ideal self as the personality we would like to be. Our self concept is often developed in relation to others as it is closely related to the way in which we act and communicate with them. If an individual has a high level of self esteem, they would need to have a positive view of themselves and...
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