In counselling and psychotherapy, it is fundamental aspect for practitioners to use theory as a way of informing the way the work with a client. (McLeod). The goal of this essay is to explore the humanistic personality theory of Carl Rogers. The essay will begin by giving a summary of key theoretical construct which includes Rogers’s view of self, his view of human condition and his rational for improvement of these conditions and then give examples to how such instances play out in clinical practice with a client using a published case material.
The essay addresses how a psychoanalytic practitioner might have approached his work differently with the same client, and finally the essay proposes and provides directions for future research. Different personality theories have put forward varieties of explanations for behaviour and what constitutes a person. Carl Rogers developed a theory of personality in the early 1940s known as a theory of client centred and later came to be called person centred theory.
The theory of person centred is a theory of personality or concept of a person.
The Person centred counselling is a non directive therapy that begins and ends with experience. The concept of experiencing makes the phenomenological stance very important to person centred approach. The concept of experience includes feelings, action tendencies and thoughts which is constantly changing. (McLeod) According to Rogers, both the therapist and the clients are trustworthy beings. This trust starts with the belief that people are capable of reaching their full potential and hence they do not require irect intervention from the therapist in order to understand themselves or resolve their problems.
They are capable of self-directed growth or actualizing tendency if they are trusted by their therapist whose role is to establish the best possible condition for its fulfilment. The therapist aim is to constantly empower a person’s autonomy which leads to development of capacities to maintain and enhance growth towards becoming. The concept of actualising tendency is the only motivation force in the theory. (Corey, 2005). In Person centred, the ‘self is a central construct in this theory.
Human beings are viewed as having individual uniqueness, with a complex personality unlike any other human being and they are acting to fulfil two needs, which are self actualization and need to be love and valued by others. Therefore person centred therapist understands that to uncover subjective perceptual world of the client can be very difficult and only clients themselves can do this with great effort. Client’s perception of their world depends on the social evaluations experiences they have had into their self concept.
If a person is accepted and at the same time disapproved, their self concept is exposed to condition of worth. The ‘self’ is related to a distinctly psychological form of actualizing tendency known as ‘self actualization tendency’. This means the realization of individual potential in accordance with one’s conscious view of what one is. The development of self concept and self actualization are connected to secondary needs which are needs for positive regards from others and needs for positive self regards which are assumed to be more likely learned from childhood.
Favoured behaviours are consistence with the person self concept. Locus of evaluation is another idea which is connected with the understanding of the operation of self concept. This is the idea that people could be guided by their defined beliefs and attitudes when evaluating and making judgement about issues. If they rely heavily on external evaluation they continue to be exposed to conditions of worth, and therefore, person centred therapist encourages the client to acknowledge and act based on their internal locus of evaluation.
Human beings are seen has having capacity to strive for fulfilment and growth. Rogers referred this capacity as the ‘ideal self’. Enabling a person to move in the direction of their self defined ideals is major aim of the person centred therapy. Human beings are viewed as fully functioning persons who are open to experience and able to live existentially, trusting in own organism, expresses feelings freely, acts independently, are creative and lives a richer life which involve a process and a direction, and not a destination (Rogers, 1961, p. 186).
Therapy can develop and psychologically change those who do not have an optimal childhood in order restore the organismic valuing process (Rogers, 1959). This idea portrays an importance strand contrast to psychoanalysis whose orientation of their theory as reflected by Freud was towards understanding and explaining pathology or illness. There are three important aspects to the therapist’s approach; congruence, unconditional positive regard and accurate empathic understanding. These are three core conditions that facilitate the actualization and growth.
These conditions relate to the shared journey in which therapists and clients reveal their humanness and participate in a growth experience together. Its only when these core values are offered, that social environment is generated into client’s condition of worth. By adopting an open and caring stance in the relationship, problems are safely explored, client facades are breached and the client become empowered to direct their own life Congruence strongly refers to the authenticity and genuineness of the therapist during the therapy session.
The therapist outer expression need to reflect their inner feelings, as a result this helps client to begin to adopt the same attitudes towards themselves. Being congruent and authentic also implied development of a positive alliance between the therapist and the client. However self disclosure doesn’t relate to the disclosure of all inner feelings and reaction by the therapist, but well timed and appropriate self disclosure. Unconditional positive regard refers to genuineness, acceptance and true caring of a client without any conditions.
This involves true caring which is unconditional regardless of the client’s behaviour wether good or bad. There is a strong belief that if a client is cared for and accepted unconditionally, they begin to experience a sense of worthiness. This also empowers the client to respect themselves by listening and trusting their inner feelings. The therapist behaviour needs to communicate a warm, caring and an acceptance atmosphere which empowers the client to express their feelings freely, without having fear of losing their therapist acceptance.
Empathic understanding refers to therapist deep and sensitive understanding of their client’s feelings as they emerged during therapy session. The therapist endeavour to understand their clients’ experiences in the here-and-now. This implies that the therapist view and sense the client’s world as their own, but without being caught in them. Reflection and clarification are the two processes involve in the facilitation of empathetic understanding. The therapist reflects back to client what they have said in order to reflect non judgemental understanding of client statements and conveyance of their presence in their client’s journey.
This encourages client to become reflective themselves. Clarification involves the therapist repeating the meaning of the expressions to the client after hearing a set of remarks from them. Recently there have been new development in person centred theory although the root of the theory is still based on Rogerian’s ideas. Mearns and Thorne (1988) wrote the classic ‘manual’ of person centred practice, but their idea too, were largely based on early work and knowledge.
These have been debated by many, but it was until in the 1990s that saw considerable new ideas which have achieved greater support among the person centred community. These crucial ideas are the pluralistic self, the nature of relational depth, and the concept of difficult process. The pluralistic self refers to idea that there is existence of different parts of self, which stands for specific units of the experiences and individual’s identity. Different approaches such as gestalt, object relation and theory of transactional analysis have incorporated the idea of ‘pluralistic self’, as central to their practice.
However this idea is not far from Rogers, description of self. Even though Rogers view self as a unitary structure, he acknowledged that changes occurred during process of growth, fulfilment and self actualization but influenced by internal conflict. Mearn and Thorne (2000) looked further on this issue and argue that practitioners and theorist view the self differently, and therefore there have always been an indirectly ‘self split’ between ‘growthful part’ of the self and ‘not for growth part’.
For example, depressed have unpleasantly blamed their feelings, thoughts and action frequently, although this criticism have been viewed as beneficial to others, as it helps them to understand their inner critic and become knowledgeable about this specific part of self. Other researchers have raised the idea that the self can be a group of related voices, which have been found to be useful to person centred tradition. (Still & Glick 2002 ). In Person centred practice it elieved that the key to effective counselling depend on the quality of therapeutic relation, however Roger’s core conditions accounts for limited in-depth explanation about therapeutic relation, neither is Border (1979) alliance model. (Cooper 2004. ). In attempt to a more comprehensive explanation of highly productive therapeutic relation, Mearn and Cooper (2005) came up with their analysis of the nature of relational depth which means a very intense state where individuals’ engagement and contact is truly real with each other, and in which the connectedness and sense of contact between therapist and client is continuous.
Schimid (2007) argues that the therapist needs to open and understands the other side of the client by seeking and establishing ‘Thou-I’relationship,in order for the client to feel a sense of real connectedness in the relationship. Finally, the concept of difficult process developed by (Warner 2002a) refers to the idea an individual perceive their world differently and process their experiences such as thoughts feelings and action tendencies differently.
However person centred practitioners have always generalised model of process for clients regardless of situations. According to Warner (2002a) there are two main difficult processes, the first one is called fragile process which occurs due difficulty in maintaining or the steady processing experiential material. In this process the person lose the problematic feelings and thoughts and all that he was exploring disappears. The other difficult process is called dissociated process which occurs when a person jumps from one area of experience to another.
This may be due to a client trying to protect painful memories and diverting his attention to a unimportant things. Mearn and Thorne (2007) included a further example of difficult process known as Ego-syntonic process which means a person becomes self centred due to fear of social relationships. Prouty et al (2002), suggest that in order for a person to begin to emerge from difficult process and fully engaged with her experiences there is a need of attentive empathic engagement by the therapist.