One of the key conditions from Carl Rogers’s humanistic theory is congruence; the other two are unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding. Congruence is the act of being real or genuine, and it helps in making therapists more empathic towards their clients (Mearns & Thorne, 2007, p. 119).
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This involves the therapist coming down to the level of the client by dropping titles such as doctor, professor, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist.
The fear that clients have for the titles, coupled with the way some therapists present themselves with authority, create a barrier that in most cases intimidates them, making them unable to open up (Irving & Dickson, 2006, p. 184).
For a genuine conversation to take place, the client must be treated as an equal partner, failure to which he tailors the answers to match what he perceives as the therapist’s expectations.
Clients should act as catalysts to the healing process as each person with a psychological condition has a significant role to play in his or her recovery (Rogers, 1951, p. 60). By realising one’s abilities, one can find solutions to the troubles that disturb him or her.
Consequently, the therapist should only act as a medium for communication but should not provide solutions to the client (Rogers, 1951, p. 71). The counsellor’s role is to offer structure and guidance with the intention of enabling the client to discover the solution to his problem by himself.
The importance of congruence is that it helps the counsellor to come into a direct contact with the client; as a result, the client’s feelings can be communicated without any barriers. The orientation and mind-set of the counsellor are instrumental in the decisions made by the client (Rogers, 1951, p. 64).
For instance, when one visits a show room, it is possible to know that the salesperson’s smile is not real and is only generously being offered since he is after a sale.
Congruence also dissolves the strangeness of the counsellor; inscrutability evokes the misapprehension of power while openness dissolves it (Mearns & Thorne, 2007, p. 124). However, authority dynamics are important forces in the friendly one-to-one associations, which can be abused or misinterpreted.
Another importance of congruence occurs when the counsellor is willing to disclose his own weaknesses. The therapist can become powerless, confused, mistaken and sometimes apologetic as a result of his congruent reaction towards the client (Mearns & Thorne, 2007, p. 125).
This therapist’s openness on his weaknesses can bring about self-acceptance in a client who spends his life in fright of his flaws (Mearns & Thorne, 2007, p. 125).
The other important factor relates to the key objective of counselling where the client is willing to be congruent himself. Every client looks forward to represent his or her feelings in an accurate and straightforward way rather than disguising or hiding them (Mearns & Thorne, 2007, p. 125).
Consequently, the therapist cannot display something that contradicts the required therapeutic outcome; it would be both perverse and inappropriate for the counsellor to look forward to furthering the client’s congruence if he remains incongruent himself.
Self-actualisation is the highest out of the five levels of needs in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ model. Although it is the desire of everyone to make advances in life, one must first satisfy the lower needs before moving up the ladder.
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Self-actualisation, being the highest level of needs, is achieved when an individual realises his or her potential and gets pinnacle experiences. Human beings have an underlying ability to actualise, which aims to grow all capacities in a way that enhances one’s autonomy (Rogers, 1959, p. 48).
The tendency is productive and directional; it occurs naturally within every human being and can only be suppressed but not destroyed. The propensity to actualise comprises of tension, need, all motivations, drive reductions, pleasure-seeking, and creative tendencies (Rogers, 1959, p. 63).
The role of this theory is to help people strive to unearth their fulfilment and the accomplishment of their potential. Individuals have innate vast resources for self understanding and changing their basic attitudes, self-concepts and self-directed behaviour (Rogers, 1959, p. 64).
The importance of these possessions is that they can be harnessed if a definable environment of facilitative psychological thoughts is provided. When parents provide encouraging but conditional regard to their children, they reject the desired qualities contrary to when they receive unconditional consideration (Rogers, 1959, p. 71).
The therapist is supposed to provide such unconditional support and acceptance to the client to enable him to move forward in his expedition to self-discovery.
Essentially, each person is good and wants to achieve the best with the driving force in them, which is the actualising tendency that catapults human beings to reach their greatest potential physically, emotionally and spiritually (Rogers, 1951, p. 102).
When this natural force is suppressed, one realises emotional suffering and pain, and never reaches his or her full potential. The counsellor should be aware of this and ultimately guide the clients to choose behaviours and actions that can help them to grow and communicate better.
The role of self-actualisation is to measure the degree or extent of achievement of an individual (McMillan, 2004). This is because an individual might possess exceptional talent that is underutilised; in worse cases, he may not even know that he has such ability.
Such persons are unable to unlock their potential and may need to see a counsellor for proper guidance. Teachers, parents and other senior members of the society have the moral responsibility to spot and guide accordingly, all the students and young people who are unable to utilise their potential fully.
Self-actualised people are those individuals who are satisfied or fulfilled and do all that they are capable of (Maslow, 1962, p. 63). The development of self-actualisation refers to the necessity for personal growth that is present throughout a person’s life (Maslow, 1962, p.64).
When an individual self-actualises, he is capable of finding out the sense of life that is significant to him. Everyone is theoretically capable of self-actualising but many people do not do so or only do it at a limited degree.
The importance of self-actualisation is that one develops desirable characteristics such as accepting oneself, being problem-centred rather than selfish, having an unusual sense of humour, being highly creative and adopting democratic attitudes among others.
There are several behaviours that lead to self-actualisation such as avoiding pretence, taking responsibility, understanding life during childhood, and trying new things as opposed to sticking to secure paths (Maslow, 1968, p. 72).
Self–actualisation also helps individuals, especially parents, to enable their children to grow in an environment where they can achieve their full potential. The children raised up in an environment of congruence have higher chances of actualising.
The people who are raised in incongruent surroundings have very little chances of doing so and only feel worthy if they match the incongruent conditions they were taught (Rogers, 1959, p. 84).
Lastly, self-actualisation assists in developing the country as one indivisible unit, which reduces the number of internal conflicts. Countries with many actualised people are more productive, both economically and socially, compared to those with fewer such individuals.
This is because self-actualised individuals are able to come up with discoveries that help in resolving societal problems or the challenges that their fellow citizens face. For one to be self-actualised he has to satisfy all the other needs and the ones that are left unfulfilled can be done as leisure.
This helps in reducing psychological conditions such as stress on the country’s population and as a result, it increases the life expectancy of the citizens. Such countries also experience few or no cases of internal conflicts such as civil wars.
In conclusion, it is important for the counsellor to self-actualise and be in congruence with the client in order to create effective results. This is because during the process of counselling, the therapist expects the client to be congruent and it is important for him to do the same.
Additionally, congruence brings in a sense of equality and this builds up the conversation; effective communication can only occur if the client feels he or she is an equal partner and does not threatened.
However, self-actualisation does not imply perfection; instead, it means being able to achieve one’s potential to the highest degree possible (Maslow, 1968, p. 90).
Irving, P., & Dickson, D. (2006). A re-conceptualisation of Rogers’ core conditions: Implications for research, practice and training. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 28(2), 183-194.
Maslow, A. H. (1962). Towards a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company.
Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. New York, NY: D. Van Nostrand Company.
McMillan, M. (2004). The person-centred approach to therapeutic change. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Mearns, D., & Thorne, B. (2007). The person centred counselling in action (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Rogers, C. (1951). Client-Centred therapy: Its current practice, implications and theory. London: Constable.
Rogers, C. (1959). A Theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework. A Study of a Science, Formulations of the Person and the Social Context, 3, 184-256.