Sketch of Theorist
Carl Ransom Rogers (1902 – 1987) grew up in a very religious and ascetic family and was expected to become a minister, but chose to study psychotherapy instead (Prochaska and Norcross 114). He started his career as a child psychologist in New York and then moved on to training the students in psychopathology in Ohio (Prochaska and Norcross 114). Working in the field of humanistic psychology, Rogers wrote several books and became widely famous for his contribution.
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Rogers’s theory of personality is based on the concept of self-actualization, one’s desire to develop and perform at full capacity (Prochaska and Norcross 115). In other words, apart from the fundamental physiological needs all human beings have the tendency and wish to improve themselves. Our awareness of the self is founded in the self-regard, self-concept, and the conditions of worth that determine our attitude and idea about who we are (Prochaska and Norcross 116).
According to Rogers, the conditions of the parental love are the basis for the future pathologies in a child. The conditions for love and approval set by the parents become the sources of incongruence in an adult’s self-perception developing fears or blockages of emotions or actions deemed unacceptable (failure, laziness, messiness) (Prochaska and Norcross 117).
Within Rogers’s humanistic theory, the therapeutic treatment of a patient begins with the analysis of the problems they face such as their internalized conditions of worth. Further, they are addressed by means of introducing the patient to the external appreciation intended to show them that the conditions no longer matter, and a person would be loved equally if they do and do not match them. This approach is based on support, optimism, and acceptance.
Initially, the point of the therapy was for the therapist to help the client to connect with their deeper feelings by means of praising them unconditionally. After a while, this approach changed slightly. Its main objective (the establishment of the client’s connection with their feelings) has not changed, but the therapist’s role was adjusted to the gradual redirection of the client’s focus from the outcomes towards the roots – their feelings.
The content of the therapies based on the humanistic theories of personality deals with conflicts of interpersonal and individuo-social characters (Prochaska and Norcross 124-126). Since this approach is person-centered, it views an individual as the central aspect of the problems and solutions.
For example, treating anxiety, a therapist would approach it as a result of an issue related to the distorted self-concept or the conditions of worth. This way, the primary objective of therapy would be to help the client to become in charge of their own life and emotions as opposed to being under control of the people around.
As any therapy is extremely intimate and has to do with the deepest fears and worries of the clients, a high level of trust is required in the relationship between the therapist and their patients (Prochaska and Norcross 126). This degree of intimacy is reached over time with the help of the professional’s active listening, attention, positive regard, and genuine honesty.
Such intimacy between two individuals is often distorted by their own internalized conditions of worth that they further impose outwards at the individuals around categorizing their qualities and features as worthy and unworthy of love (Prochaska and Norcross 126). A therapist is trained to provide sincere and objective insights without stereotyping the clients or marking their personality traits as “good” or “bad”.
Due to the person-centered approach of the humanistic personality theory, the therapists who follow it do not tend to include any routine testing or standardized primary assessment into the treatment (Prochaska and Norcross 128).
Instead, the field welcomes the practitioners of various spheres such as counseling, social work, pastoral counseling, and psychology. That is done because the individuality of the professional and their individual experiences and insights (self-authority) are viewed much more important than the standardized testing in psychotherapy.
Brief Forms of Therapy
During the lifetime of Carl Rogers, the therapy he practiced mainly went on for tens and hundreds of sessions. Today, such multitude of meetings is unnecessary. The contemporary therapists work based on brief approaches scheduling one meeting a week for half a year or a full year (Prochaska and Norcross 128).
Such schedule has many benefits – it economizes the time and costs of the clients, it provides them with valuable insights and tools for self-assessment and gives them the required guidance summing up their issues.
Person-centered therapy has a moderate effect that is rather far from 100%. This therapy is evaluated as more efficient than many other insight-based therapies, but less efficient than behavioral treatments (Prochaska and Norcross 134).
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A study conducted in one of the primary care centers in the United Kingdom demonstrated that the patients suffering from anxieties and depression treated within person-centered theory end up having equal results with those receiving cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic treatments (Prochaska and Norcross 135).
The theory is criticized for its comparatively low efficiency that is only significant when compared to the results of the wait-list or no treatment patients. It is not recognized to have a much stronger effect than the placebo-effect treatment. Besides, the theory relies on an assumption that any person would be good and virtuous of they were not subdued by the others, which is just a theory (Prochaska and Norcross 136).
Moreover, the recovery by means of providing warmth to the client can be very lengthy since the establishment of trust needed for the patient to accept the therapist’s insights would require an enormous amount of time, especially for the patients who have low self-esteem. In addition, the reconditioning is often complicated by the environments of the clients that lack recognition from the people around.
The main modern application for the person-centered approach is motivational interviewing, a practice that combines the warm and insightful participation of the therapist and their reflective listening and guiding questions (Prochaska and Norcross 139).
The optimism and non-critical approach of this theory are applicable in education to create learning without pressure filled with approval, insightful feedback, and recognition to facilitate positive learning experiences. It would be especially useful for the diverse classrooms where equitable and culture-sensitive treatment is crucial. Person-centered learning will create inclusive classroom environments and integrate the day-to-day experiences of the learners into the teaching process and the curriculum.
Who Can Be Helped
Person-centered therapy is relevant for the clients with self-esteem and anxiety problems derived from the childhood experiences.
Little or No Help
The approach has proved to be useless if applied to children and adolescents. Possibly, this occurs due to their lower level of self-awareness and self-regard.
- Having learned about person-centered therapy, do you feel like it is something you would turn to as a solution for some of your personal issues?
- Do you believe it would be helpful?
- Do you think it would take a long time for you to trust a therapist with your private issues and accept their insights?
- Carl Rogers has developed a person-centered therapy while he personally has never learned to be open about his issues, how do you think was it possible for him to know a cure but never to become cured?
Prochaska, James O. and John C. Norcross. Systems of Psychotherapy: A Transtheoretical Analysis. 8th ed. 2013. New York, New York: Cengage. Print.