Evaluate the Claim That Person-Centred Therapy Offers the Therapist All That He/She Will Need to Treat Clients Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 23 March 2016

Evaluate the Claim That Person-Centred Therapy Offers the Therapist All That He/She Will Need to Treat Clients

Evaluate the claim that Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients.

Contents

Introduction
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Theoretical Constructs
Strengths and Weaknesses
Conclusion

Notes
References

Introduction

In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title. Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences. In this essay I will explore the main theoretical constructs. Following on from this I will look at the advantages of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. Although Carl Rogers inspired many, he was not without his Critics. Therefore I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint. I will end with my evaluation of the claim itself and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusions.

Carl Rogers
Background and Influences

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable and hard-working. His Father was a Civil Engineer and his Mother a stay-at-home housewife. Carl was the fourth child in a family of six children. Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict adherence to Christian principles. She was a committed member of the local Pentecostal Church. He received a Classical education and came into contact with the works of Thomas Aquinas, Plato and Socrates. These Philosophers generated an interest in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. In particular, Socrates (see Notes i) who claimed; “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “Know Yourself” Plato’s Apology (Translation Howard North Fowler 1966)

Socrates claimed that to obtain fulfilment, happiness and a sense of purpose it was necessary to look within to find the true value of life. A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality. Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’ He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said … “Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy … “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii) During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories.

He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase … “Will it work? Is it effective?”

Autobiography (1967)
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)… “Will it work? Will it do some good?”

The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) … Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely autonomy, the actualising tendency and empathy stemmed in part from the works of the Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow (see Notes vii) In short Carl Rogers was a man of his times. He lived through two World Wars, endured the great Depression and witnessed the growth of freedom and autonomy in 1960’s and 70’s America. He states that… “Non-directive or client-centred therapy… is a product of its time and cultural setting” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Theoretical Constructs

Carl Rogers believed that within each person or Organism there is a biological need to ‘Self-Actualise’. He describes this; “The organism has one basic tendency and striving- to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

This is a motivation to grow and to realise full developmental potential. This is a life-long process and involves self-regulation, discipline and awareness. For those who have loving family environments this inner guiding force is accessible and realistic. They are more able to trust their own thoughts and feelings, as these are effectively mirrored within the family group. Adequate space and attention is given to self-expression and exploration, oftentimes leading to greater autonomy and sense of fulfilment. In general they have a more positive self-concept and can rely on self- trust to help steer them through life’s varied experiences. They also have a greater sense of purpose and are more open to experiencing a broad range of choices. Rogers referred to these individuals as ‘Fully Functioning’ with an ‘Internal Locus of Evaluation, in his work Client-Centred Therapy (1951) This occurs when an individual is able to acknowledge and comprehend their own ‘felt-sense’ of reality and rely on their own wisdom and experience to negotiate more positively through life. Roger’s notion of a ‘fully functioning person’ is encapsulated as; “a level of functioning marked by changingness, fluidity, richly differentiated reactions, by immediate experiencing of personal feelings, which are felt as deeply owned and accepted. “ On Becoming a Person (1961)

In opposition to this are those who live in toxic or dysfunctional environments. Their thoughts and feelings are rejected or denied by the group resulting in a desperate need for loving attention or ‘Positive Regard’(Client-Centred Therapy 1951) These individuals are subjected to a variety of ‘conditions’ before any kind of attention is given. These are referred to by Rogers as, “Conditions of Worth” (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) The developing self-concept is subsequently eroded by the criticisms and judgements lain upon it. In some cases it could be argued that the self-concept is in fact a direct reflection of the views of others. These individuals seek approval and avoid those behaviours which elicit disapproval. In contrast to the fully-functioning person these people have an ‘External Locus of Evaluation’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) relying, instead, upon the outside world to supply a sense of reality. In these cases their ‘Organismic Valuing Process’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) is supressed or rejected. Over time it becomes less of a trustworthy guide, as the individual learns to distrust their feelings and begins to distance him or herself from their internal reality.

Unfortunately this often results in a perpetual and self-fulfilling sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, often leading to deep distress and some psychological disorders. Self-actualisation can be said at this point to become an altogether tough struggle for survival. Rogers held that each individual has a unique perspective on his or her life. As such different meanings are derived from each personal experience and world-view. The Phenomenological Approach was developed from this. It effectively used the individual’s own experience as a basis for understanding their particular viewpoint. The therapist is then able to empathise with each individual’s deeply personal sense of self and the world. Rogers believed that every individual has the capacity for self-change and growth, without direction or intervention from a therapist. Therefore the techniques he employed were reflective, empathic and non-directive. He stipulated that for growth to occur the therapeutic relationship needs, ”necessary and sufficient conditions”

The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change (1957) These are;
1. That two persons are in psychological contact.
2.That the first person, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable, or anxious. 3.That the second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship. 4.That the therapist is experiencing unconditional positive regard toward the client. 5.That the therapist is experiencing empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client. 6.That the client perceives, at least to a minimal degree, conditions 4 and 5, the unconditional positive regard of the therapist, and the empathic understanding of the therapist. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework (1959)

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many benefits in adopting the Person-Centred approach in counselling and psychotherapy. The first being the quality of the therapist and the tools they bring to the healing process. The therapist focusses on the skills of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy is the ability to understand the point of view, or experiencing, of another without the loss of a separate sense of self and reality. In other words this means, to connect with another on a deeper level without censure or judgement. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper (see Notes viii) stipulate the following; “From a person-centred perspective a relationally deep meeting in therapy is one in which all six of Rogers’ ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for therapeutic personality development are present, with the ‘core conditions (3,4 and 5) in high degree” Working at Relational Depth (2005)

The value of this lies in the sense of safety and reliability for the client. It may be the first time they have felt valued and engaged with on a personal level. Clients feel safe enough to explore their innermost and deepest feelings, some of which have been hitherto ignored and suppressed. Being able to access these thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment allows clients to explore and express what they are feeling in the present moment. The greater the awareness, the greater the skills of autonomy and responsibility are realised by the client. . Therefore the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place in which the client feels empowered to develop their own skills of self-awareness and self-development. The person-centred therapist holds the fundamental belief that clients contain within themselves all the resources needed for growth and change. Inherent in this belief is their avoidance of diagnosis, interpretations and direction during therapy.

There is agreement among such therapists that theories and judgements can become blocks to empathy and as such focus on the problems and not the person. This challenges the conventional belief that clients are not able to understand or resolve their problems without direct help from the therapist. Therefore the client is in charge of the healing process. Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (see Notes ix) state that; “Of course crucial from a person-centred perspective, is that the location of the work is defined by the client.” Person-Centred Counselling In Action (2007)

In taking this view, therapists enable their clients to think and feel in the present moment, to gain greater insight and empower themselves by taking more responsibility for their lives. Clients can engage in an optimistic and positive experience because the focus is exclusively on them and not the expertise of the Therapist. Many therapists are convinced of the value of this approach and in particular the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. Linda Seligman (see Notes x) states that; “Research has substantiated the importance of the client-therapist relationship” Also that it, “Offers a perspective that is up-to-date and optimistic “ Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

This type of therapy has been successful in treating clients who present with relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and phobias. Clients who have experienced trauma also benefit from the creation of a safe environment in which to focus on the here and now.

Gerald Corey (see Notes xi) comments that;

“The person-centred approach can be applied to working with individuals, groups and families”

Further to this he states;

“It could also be used in counselling people with unwanted pregnancy, illness or loss of a loved one. When compared with other therapies such as goal-focused therapies, person-centred therapy has been shown to be as effective as them” He also includes the following reference;

“The person-centred approach has been successful in treating problems including anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, and personality disorders.” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005) Bozrath, Zimring & Tausch as cited by Corey (2005) However there are some therapists who question the effectiveness of this method. Some criticisms have been raised about the looseness of theory and principles, and the reliance on client self-evaluation as a means of judging success. Concerns are felt that some clients prefer a more structured and directive approach when dealing with problems, and that they do not benefit from the lack of intervention or any solution-focussed therapy. There is also a belief that this type of approach pre-supposes intelligence and articulation on behalf of the clients. Some clients may have communication problems or a mental illness that prevents them from achieving any kind of successful outcome. Whilst agreeing with some aspects, Gerald Corey believes that it; “Could be an ineffective way to facilitate therapy if the therapist is non-directive and passive” He further adds that;

“The approach may lead therapists to just be supportive of clients without challenging them” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005)
Linda Seligman raised this concern;
“Listening and caring might not be enough” Also it, “may not be useful with significant psychopathology” She points out that;
“Person-centred therapy does not draw on developmental, psychodynamic or behavioural therapy thus limiting the overall understanding of clients” Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to say that I am an admirer of Carl Rogers. As a Psychologist he was creative, original and ground-breaking. As a Philosopher he displayed compassion, simplicity and humility. I recognise his achievements and echo the distinction of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Whilst agreeing with his emphasis on the importance of the therapeutic relationship, I do not feel convinced that this approach would be successful in the treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am referring, in particular, to those who suffer from severe Personality Disorders as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(see Notes xi) These are known as ‘Cluster B’ and include Borderline, Anti-social, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

These individuals lack insight and empathy and by reason of their illness are unable to benefit from any kind of ‘talking therapies’. Also I have concerns as to whether this type of therapy would benefit a huge range of cultural and ethnic differences. It does appear to me that there is a faint whiff of elitism within this approach. It may be cynical to suggest that this therapy seems to focus on those who are, to coin an irreverent phrase, ‘free, white and 21’ Further to this I believe that using only one approach minimises the effectiveness and skill-set of the therapist. With an inclusive or integrated method, a therapist is not confined in any way. Individuals respond well to a variety of methods depending on personal choice. Some approaches are easier to comprehend and assimilate. Some clients may need less time, gaining information and help from say, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in far fewer sessions. Of course there is always a financial consideration which plays a dominant role in selecting the right therapist. In conclusion, therefore, I do not think the claim that ‘Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients’ is either valid or realistic.

Notes

(i)Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was a Greek Philosopher whose ideas offended the elitist segment of the Athenian State. He was charged with heresy and stood trial for his crimes in 399 BC. It was Plato who recorded the words of Socrates in his “Dialogues” and “Apology” The latter was his recollection of the events of the trial. Socrates denied his crimes and famously chose death rather than exile from Athens in 399 BC. (ii)Lao Tsu was a Mystic Philosopher in 6th Century BC, China. He is credited as being the ‘Father of Taoism’ and the author of “Tao te Ching” There remains some controversy over the existence of Lao Tsu but for the purposes of this essay I will assume his authorship. (iii)“Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children”(1931) “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”(1939) “Counselling and psychotherapy”(1942) “Counselling With Returned Servicemen”(1945) Client-centred Therapy”(1951) “Psychotherapy and Personality Change” (1954) “On becoming a person”(1961) “The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact: A Study of Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics“(1967) “Man and the Science of Man”(1968) “ Person to Person”(1968) “Freedom To Learn: A View of What Education Might Become” (1968)“Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”(1970) “Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives”(1972) “Carl Rogers on Personal Power: Inner Strength and its Revolutionary Impact”(1977) “Freedom to learn for the 80’s” (1980) “A Way of Being (1980) (iv)Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to become President of the United States in 1933. He was a Democrat and the only President to be re-elected a further two times. His New Deal was designed to bring economic stability, growth and reform to a nation struggling with Depression and the after-effects of World War 1. He died in office towards the end of World War 1. (v)Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard studied with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago and acquired a PhD in 1959. He is an Honourary Fellow in Psychology at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. (vi)Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish Philosopher. He was also a Theologian and a Poet. Kierkegaard was deeply concerned with the misery and suffering of humanity.

He also wrote many works questioning the nature of structured or organised religion, preferring to focus on the ethical and moral considerations inherent in a direct relationship with God. He is held by some to be the first Existential Philosopher. (vii)Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a contemporary of Carl Rogers. An American Humanistic Psychologist who was the Architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs” Maslow was passionate in his belief that every individual contained the drive to achieve ‘peak experiences’ or ‘self-actualise’. He developed this Theory on the premise that basic physical, emotional and mental needs by necessity should be met first. (viii)Dave Mearns is a Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. Mick Cooper is an Existential Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. (ix)Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia. (x)Linda Seligman was Professor Emerita of Counselling and Development in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, Virginia. She died in 2007 (xi)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by Clinicians, Health Organizations, Insurance Companies, Researchers and the Legal System. It provides the standard criteria for the classification of Mental Disorders.

References

•Barrett-Lennard G.T (2007) Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F. Schmid and Gill Wyatt (eds) The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling Basingstoke Hampshire; Palgrave Macmillan •Corey G. (2005) Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (7th edition.). Belmont CA; Thomson Learning. •Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell ) Tao te Ching (1999) London; Francis Lincoln Limited •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London; Sage Publications Ltd •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2007) Person-Centred Counselling In Action (3rd edition) London; Sage Publications Ltd •Rogers C. R (1951) Client-Centred Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change; Journal of Consulting Psychology (1957) 21 95-103 •Rogers C.R (1959) A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework New York; McGraw-Hill •Rogers C.R (1961) On Becoming a Person. A Therapist’s view of Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R (1967) Autobiography. E.G Boring and G Lindzey (eds) A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 5 New York; Appleton-Century-Crofts •Seligman L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey; Pearson Education

Evaluate the claim that Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients.

Contents

Introduction
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Theoretical Constructs
Strengths and Weaknesses
Conclusion

Notes
References

Introduction

In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title. Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences. In this essay I will explore the main theoretical constructs. Following on from this I will look at the advantages of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. Although Carl Rogers inspired many, he was not without his Critics. Therefore I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint. I will end with my evaluation of the claim itself and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusions.

Carl Rogers
Background and Influences

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable and hard-working. His Father was a Civil Engineer and his Mother a stay-at-home housewife. Carl was the fourth child in a family of six children. Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict adherence to Christian principles. She was a committed member of the local Pentecostal Church. He received a Classical education and came into contact with the works of Thomas Aquinas, Plato and Socrates. These Philosophers generated an interest in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. In particular, Socrates (see Notes i) who claimed; “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “Know Yourself” Plato’s Apology (Translation Howard North Fowler 1966)

Socrates claimed that to obtain fulfilment, happiness and a sense of purpose it was necessary to look within to find the true value of life. A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality. Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’ He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said … “Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy … “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii) During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories. He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase … “Will it work? Is it effective?”

Autobiography (1967)
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)… “Will it work? Will it do some good?”

The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) … Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely autonomy, the actualising tendency and empathy stemmed in part from the works of the Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow (see Notes vii) In short Carl Rogers was a man of his times. He lived through two World Wars, endured the great Depression and witnessed the growth of freedom and autonomy in 1960’s and 70’s America. He states that… “Non-directive or client-centred therapy… is a product of its time and cultural setting” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Theoretical Constructs

Carl Rogers believed that within each person or Organism there is a biological need to ‘Self-Actualise’. He describes this; “The organism has one basic tendency and striving- to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

This is a motivation to grow and to realise full developmental potential. This is a life-long process and involves self-regulation, discipline and awareness. For those who have loving family environments this inner guiding force is accessible and realistic. They are more able to trust their own thoughts and feelings, as these are effectively mirrored within the family group. Adequate space and attention is given to self-expression and exploration, oftentimes leading to greater autonomy and sense of fulfilment. In general they have a more positive self-concept and can rely on self- trust to help steer them through life’s varied experiences.

They also have a greater sense of purpose and are more open to experiencing a broad range of choices. Rogers referred to these individuals as ‘Fully Functioning’ with an ‘Internal Locus of Evaluation, in his work Client-Centred Therapy (1951) This occurs when an individual is able to acknowledge and comprehend their own ‘felt-sense’ of reality and rely on their own wisdom and experience to negotiate more positively through life. Roger’s notion of a ‘fully functioning person’ is encapsulated as; “a level of functioning marked by changingness, fluidity, richly differentiated reactions, by immediate experiencing of personal feelings, which are felt as deeply owned and accepted. “ On Becoming a Person (1961)

In opposition to this are those who live in toxic or dysfunctional environments. Their thoughts and feelings are rejected or denied by the group resulting in a desperate need for loving attention or ‘Positive Regard’(Client-Centred Therapy 1951) These individuals are subjected to a variety of ‘conditions’ before any kind of attention is given. These are referred to by Rogers as, “Conditions of Worth” (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) The developing self-concept is subsequently eroded by the criticisms and judgements lain upon it. In some cases it could be argued that the self-concept is in fact a direct reflection of the views of others. These individuals seek approval and avoid those behaviours which elicit disapproval. In contrast to the fully-functioning person these people have an ‘External Locus of Evaluation’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) relying, instead, upon the outside world to supply a sense of reality. In these cases their ‘Organismic Valuing Process’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) is supressed or rejected.

Over time it becomes less of a trustworthy guide, as the individual learns to distrust their feelings and begins to distance him or herself from their internal reality. Unfortunately this often results in a perpetual and self-fulfilling sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, often leading to deep distress and some psychological disorders. Self-actualisation can be said at this point to become an altogether tough struggle for survival. Rogers held that each individual has a unique perspective on his or her life. As such different meanings are derived from each personal experience and world-view. The Phenomenological Approach was developed from this. It effectively used the individual’s own experience as a basis for understanding their particular viewpoint. The therapist is then able to empathise with each individual’s deeply personal sense of self and the world. Rogers believed that every individual has the capacity for self-change and growth, without direction or intervention from a therapist. Therefore the techniques he employed were reflective, empathic and non-directive. He stipulated that for growth to occur the therapeutic relationship needs, ”necessary and sufficient conditions”

The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change (1957) These are;
1. That two persons are in psychological contact.
2.That the first person, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable, or anxious. 3.That the second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship. 4.That the therapist is experiencing unconditional positive regard toward the client. 5.That the therapist is experiencing empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client. 6.That the client perceives, at least to a minimal degree, conditions 4 and 5, the unconditional positive regard of the therapist, and the empathic understanding of the therapist. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework (1959)

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many benefits in adopting the Person-Centred approach in counselling and psychotherapy. The first being the quality of the therapist and the tools they bring to the healing process. The therapist focusses on the skills of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy is the ability to understand the point of view, or experiencing, of another without the loss of a separate sense of self and reality. In other words this means, to connect with another on a deeper level without censure or judgement. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper (see Notes viii) stipulate the following; “From a person-centred perspective a relationally deep meeting in therapy is one in which all six of Rogers’ ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for therapeutic personality development are present, with the ‘core conditions (3,4 and 5) in high degree” Working at Relational Depth (2005)

The value of this lies in the sense of safety and reliability for the client. It may be the first time they have felt valued and engaged with on a personal level. Clients feel safe enough to explore their innermost and deepest feelings, some of which have been hitherto ignored and suppressed. Being able to access these thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment allows clients to explore and express what they are feeling in the present moment. The greater the awareness, the greater the skills of autonomy and responsibility are realised by the client. . Therefore the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place in which the client feels empowered to develop their own skills of self-awareness and self-development.

The person-centred therapist holds the fundamental belief that clients contain within themselves all the resources needed for growth and change. Inherent in this belief is their avoidance of diagnosis, interpretations and direction during therapy. There is agreement among such therapists that theories and judgements can become blocks to empathy and as such focus on the problems and not the person. This challenges the conventional belief that clients are not able to understand or resolve their problems without direct help from the therapist. Therefore the client is in charge of the healing process. Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (see Notes ix) state that; “Of course crucial from a person-centred perspective, is that the location
of the work is defined by the client.” Person-Centred Counselling In Action (2007)

In taking this view, therapists enable their clients to think and feel in the present moment, to gain greater insight and empower themselves by taking more responsibility for their lives. Clients can engage in an optimistic and positive experience because the focus is exclusively on them and not the expertise of the Therapist. Many therapists are convinced of the value of this approach and in particular the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. Linda Seligman (see Notes x) states that; “Research has substantiated the importance of the client-therapist relationship” Also that it, “Offers a perspective that is up-to-date and optimistic “ Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

This type of therapy has been successful in treating clients who present with relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and phobias. Clients who have experienced trauma also benefit from the creation of a safe environment in which to focus on the here and now.

Gerald Corey (see Notes xi) comments that;

“The person-centred approach can be applied to working with individuals, groups and families”

Further to this he states;

“It could also be used in counselling people with unwanted pregnancy, illness or loss of a loved one. When compared with other therapies such as goal-focused therapies, person-centred therapy has been shown to be as effective as them” He also includes the following reference;

“The person-centred approach has been successful in treating problems including anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, and personality disorders.” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005) Bozrath, Zimring & Tausch as cited by Corey (2005) However there are some therapists who question the effectiveness of this method. Some criticisms have been raised about the looseness of theory and principles, and the reliance on client self-evaluation as a means of judging success. Concerns are felt that some clients prefer a more structured and directive approach when dealing with problems, and that they do not benefit from the lack of intervention or any solution-focussed therapy. There is also a belief that this type of approach pre-supposes intelligence and articulation on behalf of the clients. Some clients may have communication problems or a mental illness that prevents them from achieving any kind of successful outcome. Whilst agreeing with some aspects, Gerald Corey believes that it; “Could be an ineffective way to facilitate therapy if the therapist is non-directive and passive” He further adds that;

“The approach may lead therapists to just be supportive of clients without challenging them” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005)
Linda Seligman raised this concern;
“Listening and caring might not be enough” Also it, “may not be useful with significant psychopathology” She points out that;
“Person-centred therapy does not draw on developmental, psychodynamic or behavioural therapy thus limiting the overall understanding of clients” Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to say that I am an admirer of Carl Rogers. As a Psychologist he was creative, original and ground-breaking. As a Philosopher he displayed compassion, simplicity and humility. I recognise his achievements and echo the distinction of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Whilst agreeing with his emphasis on the importance of the therapeutic relationship, I do not feel convinced that this approach would be successful in the treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am referring, in particular, to those who suffer from severe Personality Disorders as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(see Notes xi) These are known as ‘Cluster B’ and include Borderline, Anti-social, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

These individuals lack insight and empathy and by reason of their illness are unable to benefit from any kind of ‘talking therapies’. Also I have concerns as to whether this type of therapy would benefit a huge range of cultural and ethnic differences. It does appear to me that there is a faint whiff of elitism within this approach. It may be cynical to suggest that this therapy seems to focus on those who are, to coin an irreverent phrase, ‘free, white and 21’ Further to this I believe that using only one approach minimises the effectiveness and skill-set of the therapist. With an inclusive or integrated method, a therapist is not confined in any way. Individuals respond well to a variety of methods depending on personal choice. Some approaches are easier to comprehend and assimilate. Some clients may need less time, gaining information and help from say, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in far fewer sessions. Of course there is always a financial consideration which plays a dominant role in selecting the right therapist. In conclusion, therefore, I do not think the claim that ‘Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients’ is either valid or realistic.

Notes

(i)Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was a Greek Philosopher whose ideas offended the elitist segment of the Athenian State. He was charged with heresy and stood trial for his crimes in 399 BC. It was Plato who recorded the words of Socrates in his “Dialogues” and “Apology” The latter was his recollection of the events of the trial. Socrates denied his crimes and famously chose death rather than exile from Athens in 399 BC. (ii)Lao Tsu was a Mystic Philosopher in 6th Century BC, China. He is credited as being the ‘Father of Taoism’ and the author of “Tao te Ching” There remains some controversy over the existence of Lao Tsu but for the purposes of this essay I will assume his authorship. (iii)“Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children”(1931) “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”(1939) “Counselling and psychotherapy”(1942) “Counselling With Returned Servicemen”(1945) Client-centred Therapy”(1951) “Psychotherapy and Personality Change” (1954) “On becoming a person”(1961) “The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact: A Study of Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics“(1967) “Man and the Science of Man”(1968) “ Person to Person”(1968) “Freedom To Learn: A View of What Education Might Become” (1968)“Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”(1970) “Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives”(1972) “Carl Rogers on Personal Power: Inner Strength and its Revolutionary Impact”(1977) “Freedom to learn for the 80’s” (1980) “A Way of Being (1980) (iv)Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to become President of the United States in 1933. He was a Democrat and the only President to be re-elected a further two times. His New Deal was designed to bring economic stability, growth and reform to a nation struggling with Depression and the after-effects of World War 1. He died in office towards the end of World War 1. (v)Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard studied with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago and acquired a PhD in 1959. He is an Honourary Fellow in Psychology at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. (vi)Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish Philosopher.

He was also a Theologian and a Poet. Kierkegaard was deeply concerned with the misery and suffering of humanity. He also wrote many works questioning the nature of structured or organised religion, preferring to focus on the ethical and moral considerations inherent in a direct relationship with God. He is held by some to be the first Existential Philosopher. (vii)Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a contemporary of Carl Rogers. An American Humanistic Psychologist who was the Architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs” Maslow was passionate in his belief that every individual contained the drive to achieve ‘peak experiences’ or ‘self-actualise’.

He developed this Theory on the premise that basic physical, emotional and mental needs by necessity should be met first. (viii)Dave Mearns is a Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. Mick Cooper is an Existential Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. (ix)Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia. (x)Linda Seligman was Professor Emerita of Counselling and Development in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, Virginia. She died in 2007 (xi)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by Clinicians, Health Organizations, Insurance Companies, Researchers and the Legal System. It provides the standard criteria for the classification of
Mental Disorders.

References

•Barrett-Lennard G.T (2007) Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F. Schmid and Gill Wyatt (eds) The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling Basingstoke Hampshire; Palgrave Macmillan •Corey G. (2005) Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (7th edition.). Belmont CA; Thomson Learning. •Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell ) Tao te Ching (1999) London; Francis Lincoln Limited •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London; Sage Publications Ltd •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2007) Person-Centred Counselling In Action (3rd edition) London; Sage Publications Ltd •Rogers C. R (1951) Client-Centred Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change; Journal of Consulting Psychology (1957) 21 95-103 •Rogers C.R (1959) A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework New York; McGraw-Hill •Rogers C.R (1961) On Becoming a Person. A Therapist’s view of Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R (1967) Autobiography. E.G Boring and G Lindzey (eds) A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 5 New York; Appleton-Century-Crofts •Seligman L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey; Pearson Education

Introduction
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Theoretical Constructs
Strengths and Weaknesses
Conclusion

Notes
References

Introduction

In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title. Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences. In this essay I will explore the main theoretical constructs. Following on from this I will look at the advantages of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. Although Carl Rogers inspired many, he was not without his Critics. Therefore I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint. I will end with my evaluation of the claim itself and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusions.

Carl Rogers
Background and Influences

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable and hard-working. His Father was a Civil Engineer and his Mother a stay-at-home housewife. Carl was the fourth child in a family of six children. Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict adherence to Christian principles. She was a committed member of the local Pentecostal Church. He received a Classical education and came into contact with the works of Thomas Aquinas, Plato and Socrates. These Philosophers generated an interest in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. In particular, Socrates (see Notes i) who claimed; “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “Know Yourself” Plato’s Apology (Translation Howard North Fowler 1966)

Socrates claimed that to obtain fulfilment, happiness and a sense of purpose it was necessary to look within to find the true value of life. A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality. Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’ He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said … “Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy … “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii) During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories. He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase … “Will it work? Is it effective?”

Autobiography (1967)
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)… “Will it work? Will it do some good?”

The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) … Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely autonomy, the actualising tendency and empathy stemmed in part from the works of the Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow (see Notes vii) In short Carl Rogers was a man of his times. He lived through two World Wars, endured the great Depression and witnessed the growth of freedom and autonomy in 1960’s and 70’s America. He states that… “Non-directive or client-centred therapy… is a product of its time and cultural setting” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Theoretical Constructs

Carl Rogers believed that within each person or Organism there is a biological need to ‘Self-Actualise’. He describes this; “The organism has one basic tendency and striving- to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

This is a motivation to grow and to realise full developmental potential. This is a life-long process and involves self-regulation, discipline and awareness. For those who have loving family environments this inner guiding force is accessible and realistic. They are more able to trust their own thoughts and feelings, as these are effectively mirrored within the family group. Adequate space and attention is given to self-expression and exploration, oftentimes leading to greater autonomy and sense of fulfilment. In general they have a more positive self-concept and can rely on self- trust to help steer them through life’s varied experiences. They also have a greater sense of purpose and are more open to experiencing a broad range of
choices. Rogers referred to these individuals as ‘Fully Functioning’ with an ‘Internal Locus of Evaluation, in his work Client-Centred Therapy (1951) This occurs when an individual is able to acknowledge and comprehend their own ‘felt-sense’ of reality and rely on their own wisdom and experience to negotiate more positively through life. Roger’s notion of a ‘fully functioning person’ is encapsulated as; “a level of functioning marked by changingness, fluidity, richly differentiated reactions, by immediate experiencing of personal feelings, which are felt as deeply owned and accepted. “ On Becoming a Person (1961)

In opposition to this are those who live in toxic or dysfunctional environments. Their thoughts and feelings are rejected or denied by the group resulting in a desperate need for loving attention or ‘Positive Regard’(Client-Centred Therapy 1951) These individuals are subjected to a variety of ‘conditions’ before any kind of attention is given. These are referred to by Rogers as, “Conditions of Worth” (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) The developing self-concept is subsequently eroded by the criticisms and judgements lain upon it. In some cases it could be argued that the self-concept is in fact a direct reflection of the views of others. These individuals seek approval and avoid those behaviours which elicit disapproval. In contrast to the fully-functioning person these people have an ‘External Locus of Evaluation’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) relying, instead, upon the outside world to supply a sense of reality. In these cases their ‘Organismic Valuing Process’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) is supressed or rejected.

Over time it becomes less of a trustworthy guide, as the individual learns to distrust their feelings and begins to distance him or herself from their internal reality. Unfortunately this often results in a perpetual and self-fulfilling sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, often leading to deep distress and some psychological disorders. Self-actualisation can be said at this point to become an altogether tough struggle for survival. Rogers held that each individual has a unique perspective on his or her life. As such different meanings are derived from each personal experience and world-view. The Phenomenological Approach was developed from this. It effectively used the individual’s own experience as a basis for understanding their particular viewpoint.

The therapist is then able to empathise with each individual’s deeply personal sense of self and the world. Rogers believed that every individual has the capacity for self-change and growth, without direction or intervention from a therapist. Therefore the techniques he employed were reflective, empathic and non-directive. He stipulated that for growth to occur the therapeutic relationship needs, ”necessary and sufficient conditions”

The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change (1957) These are;
1. That two persons are in psychological contact.
2.That the first person, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable, or anxious. 3.That the second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship. 4.That the therapist is experiencing unconditional positive regard toward the client. 5.That the therapist is experiencing empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client. 6.That the client perceives, at least to a minimal degree, conditions 4 and 5, the unconditional positive regard of the therapist, and the empathic understanding of the therapist. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework (1959)

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many benefits in adopting the Person-Centred approach in counselling and psychotherapy. The first being the quality of the therapist and the tools they bring to the healing process. The therapist focusses on the skills of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy is the ability to understand the point of view, or experiencing, of another without the loss of a separate sense of self and reality. In other words this means, to connect with another on a deeper level without censure or judgement. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper (see Notes viii) stipulate the following; “From a person-centred perspective a relationally deep meeting in therapy is one in which all six of Rogers’ ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for therapeutic personality development are present, with the ‘core conditions (3,4 and 5) in high degree” Working at Relational Depth (2005)

The value of this lies in the sense of safety and reliability for the client. It may be the first time they have felt valued and engaged with on a personal level. Clients feel safe enough to explore their innermost and deepest feelings, some of which have been hitherto ignored and suppressed. Being able to access these thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment allows clients to explore and express what they are feeling in the present moment. The greater the awareness, the greater the skills of autonomy and responsibility are realised by the client. . Therefore the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place in which the client feels empowered to develop their own skills of self-awareness and self-development.

The person-centred therapist holds the fundamental belief that clients contain within themselves all the resources needed for growth and change. Inherent in this belief is their avoidance of diagnosis, interpretations and direction during therapy. There is agreement among such therapists that theories and judgements can become blocks to empathy and as such focus on the problems and not the person. This challenges the conventional belief that clients are not able to understand or resolve their problems without direct help from the therapist. Therefore the client is in charge of the healing process. Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (see Notes ix) state that; “Of course crucial from a person-centred perspective, is that the location of the work is defined by the client.” Person-Centred Counselling In Action (2007)

In taking this view, therapists enable their clients to think and feel in the present moment, to gain greater insight and empower themselves by taking more responsibility for their lives. Clients can engage in an optimistic and positive experience because the focus is exclusively on them and not the expertise of the Therapist. Many therapists are convinced of the value of this approach and in particular the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. Linda Seligman (see Notes x) states that; “Research has substantiated the importance of the client-therapist relationship” Also that it, “Offers a perspective that is up-to-date and optimistic “ Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

This type of therapy has been successful in treating clients who present with relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and phobias. Clients who have experienced trauma also benefit from the creation of a safe environment in which to focus on the here and now.

Gerald Corey (see Notes xi) comments that;

“The person-centred approach can be applied to working with individuals, groups and families”

Further to this he states;

“It could also be used in counselling people with unwanted pregnancy, illness or loss of a loved one. When compared with other therapies such as goal-focused therapies, person-centred therapy has been shown to be as effective as them” He also includes the following reference;

“The person-centred approach has been successful in treating problems including anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, and personality disorders.” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005) Bozrath, Zimring & Tausch as cited by Corey (2005) However there are some therapists who question the effectiveness of this method. Some criticisms have been raised about the looseness of theory and principles, and the reliance on client self-evaluation as a means of judging success. Concerns are felt that some clients prefer a more structured and directive approach when dealing with problems, and that they do not benefit from the lack of intervention or any solution-focussed therapy. There is also a belief that this type of approach pre-supposes intelligence and articulation on behalf of the clients. Some clients may have communication problems or a mental illness that prevents them from achieving any kind of successful outcome.

Whilst agreeing with some aspects, Gerald Corey believes that it; “Could be an ineffective way to facilitate therapy if the therapist is non-directive and passive” He further adds that;

“The approach may lead therapists to just be supportive of clients without challenging them” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005)
Linda Seligman raised this concern;
“Listening and caring might not be enough” Also it, “may not be useful with significant psychopathology” She points out that;
“Person-centred therapy does not draw on developmental, psychodynamic or behavioural therapy thus limiting the overall understanding of clients” Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to say that I am an admirer of Carl Rogers. As a Psychologist he was creative, original and ground-breaking. As a Philosopher he displayed compassion, simplicity and humility. I recognise his achievements and echo the distinction of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Whilst agreeing with his emphasis on the importance of the therapeutic relationship, I do not feel convinced that this approach would be successful in the treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am referring, in particular, to those who suffer from severe Personality Disorders as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(see Notes xi) These are known as ‘Cluster B’ and include Borderline, Anti-social, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

These individuals lack insight and empathy and by reason of their illness are unable to benefit from any kind of ‘talking therapies’. Also I have concerns as to whether this type of therapy would benefit a huge range of cultural and ethnic differences. It does appear to me that there is a faint whiff of elitism within this approach. It may be cynical to suggest that this therapy seems to focus on those who are, to coin an irreverent phrase, ‘free, white and 21’ Further to this I believe that using only one approach minimises the effectiveness and skill-set of the therapist. With an inclusive or integrated method, a therapist is not confined in any way.

Individuals respond well to a variety of methods depending on personal choice. Some approaches are easier to comprehend and assimilate. Some clients may need less time, gaining information and help from say, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in far fewer sessions. Of course there is always a financial consideration which plays a dominant role in selecting the right therapist. In conclusion, therefore, I do not think the claim that ‘Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients’ is either valid or realistic.

Notes

(i)Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was a Greek Philosopher whose ideas offended the elitist segment of the Athenian State. He was charged with heresy and stood trial for his crimes in 399 BC. It was Plato who recorded the words of Socrates in his “Dialogues” and “Apology” The latter was his recollection of the events of the trial. Socrates denied his crimes and famously chose death rather than exile from Athens in 399 BC. (ii)Lao Tsu was a Mystic Philosopher in 6th Century BC, China. He is credited as being the ‘Father of Taoism’ and the author of “Tao te Ching” There remains some controversy over the existence of Lao Tsu but for the purposes of this essay I will assume his authorship. (iii)“Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children”(1931) “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”(1939) “Counselling and psychotherapy”(1942) “Counselling With Returned Servicemen”(1945) Client-centred Therapy”(1951) “Psychotherapy and Personality Change” (1954) “On becoming a person”(1961) “The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact: A Study of Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics“(1967) “Man and the Science of Man”(1968) “ Person to Person”(1968) “Freedom To Learn: A View of What Education Might Become” (1968)“Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”(1970) “Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives”(1972) “Carl Rogers on Personal Power: Inner Strength and its Revolutionary Impact”(1977) “Freedom to learn for the 80’s” (1980) “A Way of Being (1980) (iv)Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to become President of the United States in 1933. He was a Democrat and the only President to be re-elected a further two times. His New Deal was designed to bring economic stability, growth and reform to a nation struggling with Depression and the after-effects of World War 1.

He died in office towards the end of World War 1. (v)Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard studied with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago and acquired a PhD in 1959. He is an Honourary Fellow in Psychology at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. (vi)Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish Philosopher. He was also a Theologian and a Poet. Kierkegaard was deeply concerned with the misery and suffering of humanity. He also wrote many works questioning the nature of structured or organised religion, preferring to focus on the ethical and moral considerations inherent in a direct relationship with God. He is held by some to be the first Existential Philosopher. (vii)Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a contemporary of Carl Rogers. An American Humanistic Psychologist who was the Architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs” Maslow was passionate in his belief that every individual contained the drive to achieve ‘peak experiences’ or ‘self-actualise’. He developed this Theory on the premise that basic physical, emotional and mental needs by necessity should be met first. (viii)Dave Mearns is a Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. Mick Cooper is an Existential Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. (ix)Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia. (x)Linda Seligman was Professor Emerita of Counselling and Development in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, Virginia. She died in 2007 (xi)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by Clinicians, Health Organizations, Insurance Companies, Researchers and the Legal System. It provides the standard criteria for the classification of Mental Disorders.

References

•Barrett-Lennard G.T (2007) Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F. Schmid and Gill Wyatt (eds) The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling Basingstoke Hampshire; Palgrave Macmillan •Corey G. (2005) Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (7th edition.). Belmont CA; Thomson Learning. •Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell ) Tao te Ching (1999) London; Francis Lincoln Limited •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London; Sage Publications Ltd •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2007) Person-Centred Counselling In Action (3rd edition) London; Sage Publications Ltd •Rogers C. R (1951) Client-Centred Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change; Journal of Consulting Psychology (1957) 21 95-103 •Rogers C.R (1959) A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework New York; McGraw-Hill •Rogers C.R (1961) On Becoming a Person. A Therapist’s view of Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R (1967) Autobiography. E.G Boring and G Lindzey (eds) A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 5 New York; Appleton-Century-Crofts •Seligman L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey; Pearson Education

Contents

Introduction
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Theoretical Constructs
Strengths and Weaknesses
Conclusion

Notes
References

Introduction

In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title. Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences. In this essay I will explore the main theoretical constructs. Following on from this I will look at the advantages of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. Although Carl Rogers inspired many, he was not without his Critics. Therefore I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint. I will end with my evaluation of the claim itself and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusions.

Carl Rogers
Background and Influences

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable and hard-working. His Father was a Civil Engineer and his Mother a stay-at-home housewife. Carl was the fourth child in a family of six children. Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict adherence to Christian principles. She was a committed member of the local Pentecostal Church. He received a Classical education and came into contact with the works of Thomas Aquinas, Plato and Socrates. These Philosophers generated an interest in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. In particular, Socrates (see Notes i) who claimed; “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “Know Yourself” Plato’s Apology (Translation Howard North Fowler 1966)

Socrates claimed that to obtain fulfilment, happiness and a sense of purpose it was necessary to look within to find the true value of life. A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality.

Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’ He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said … “Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy … “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii) During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories. He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase … “Will it work? Is it effective?”

Autobiography (1967)
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)… “Will it work? Will it do some good?”
The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) … Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish
Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely autonomy, the actualising tendency and empathy stemmed in part from the works of the Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow (see Notes vii) In short Carl Rogers was a man of his times. He lived through two World Wars, endured the great Depression and witnessed the growth of freedom and autonomy in 1960’s and 70’s America. He states that… “Non-directive or client-centred therapy… is a product of its time and cultural setting” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Theoretical Constructs

Carl Rogers believed that within each person or Organism there is a biological need to ‘Self-Actualise’. He describes this; “The organism has one basic tendency and striving- to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

This is a motivation to grow and to realise full developmental potential. This is a life-long process and involves self-regulation, discipline and awareness. For those who have loving family environments this inner guiding force is accessible and realistic. They are more able to trust their own thoughts and feelings, as these are effectively mirrored within the family group. Adequate space and attention is given to self-expression and exploration, oftentimes leading to greater autonomy and sense of fulfilment. In general they have a more positive self-concept and can rely on self- trust to help steer them through life’s varied experiences.

They also have a greater sense of purpose and are more open to experiencing a broad range of choices. Rogers referred to these individuals as ‘Fully Functioning’ with an ‘Internal Locus of Evaluation, in his work Client-Centred Therapy (1951) This occurs when an individual is able to acknowledge and comprehend their own ‘felt-sense’ of reality and rely on their own wisdom and experience to negotiate more positively through life. Roger’s notion of a ‘fully functioning person’ is encapsulated as; “a level of functioning marked by changingness, fluidity, richly differentiated reactions, by immediate experiencing of personal feelings, which are felt as deeply owned and accepted. “ On Becoming a Person (1961)

In opposition to this are those who live in toxic or dysfunctional environments. Their thoughts and feelings are rejected or denied by the group resulting in a desperate need for loving attention or ‘Positive Regard’(Client-Centred Therapy 1951) These individuals are subjected to a variety of ‘conditions’ before any kind of attention is given. These are referred to by Rogers as, “Conditions of Worth” (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) The developing self-concept is subsequently eroded by the criticisms and judgements lain upon it. In some cases it could be argued that the self-concept is in fact a direct reflection of the views of others. These individuals seek approval and avoid those behaviours which elicit disapproval. In contrast to the fully-functioning person these people have an ‘External Locus of Evaluation’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) relying, instead, upon the outside world to supply a sense of reality. In these cases their ‘Organismic Valuing Process’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) is supressed or rejected. Over time it becomes less of a trustworthy guide, as the individual learns to distrust their feelings and begins to distance him or herself from their internal reality.

Unfortunately this often results in a perpetual and self-fulfilling sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, often leading to deep distress and some psychological disorders. Self-actualisation can be said at this point to become an altogether tough struggle for survival. Rogers held that each individual has a unique perspective on his or her life. As such different meanings are derived from each personal experience and world-view. The Phenomenological Approach was developed from this. It effectively used the individual’s own experience as a basis for understanding their particular viewpoint. The therapist is then able to empathise with each individual’s deeply personal sense of self and the world. Rogers believed that every individual has the capacity for self-change and growth, without direction or intervention from a therapist. Therefore the techniques he employed were reflective, empathic and non-directive. He stipulated that for growth to occur the therapeutic relationship needs, ”necessary and sufficient conditions”

The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change
(1957) These are;
1. That two persons are in psychological contact.
2.That the first person, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable, or anxious. 3.That the second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship. 4.That the therapist is experiencing unconditional positive regard toward the client. 5.That the therapist is experiencing empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client. 6.That the client perceives, at least to a minimal degree, conditions 4 and 5, the unconditional positive regard of the therapist, and the empathic understanding of the therapist. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework (1959)

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many benefits in adopting the Person-Centred approach in counselling and psychotherapy. The first being the quality of the therapist and the tools they bring to the healing process. The therapist focusses on the skills of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy is the ability to understand the point of view, or experiencing, of another without the loss of a separate sense of self and reality. In other words this means, to connect with another on a deeper level without censure or judgement. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper (see Notes viii) stipulate the following; “From a person-centred perspective a relationally deep meeting in therapy is one in which all six of Rogers’ ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for therapeutic personality development are present, with the ‘core conditions (3,4 and 5) in high degree” Working at Relational Depth (2005)

The value of this lies in the sense of safety and reliability for the client. It may be the first time they have felt valued and engaged with on a personal level. Clients feel safe enough to explore their innermost and
deepest feelings, some of which have been hitherto ignored and suppressed. Being able to access these thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment allows clients to explore and express what they are feeling in the present moment. The greater the awareness, the greater the skills of autonomy and responsibility are realised by the client. . Therefore the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place in which the client feels empowered to develop their own skills of self-awareness and self-development.

The person-centred therapist holds the fundamental belief that clients contain within themselves all the resources needed for growth and change. Inherent in this belief is their avoidance of diagnosis, interpretations and direction during therapy. There is agreement among such therapists that theories and judgements can become blocks to empathy and as such focus on the problems and not the person. This challenges the conventional belief that clients are not able to understand or resolve their problems without direct help from the therapist. Therefore the client is in charge of the healing process. Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (see Notes ix) state that; “Of course crucial from a person-centred perspective, is that the location of the work is defined by the client.” Person-Centred Counselling In Action (2007)

In taking this view, therapists enable their clients to think and feel in the present moment, to gain greater insight and empower themselves by taking more responsibility for their lives. Clients can engage in an optimistic and positive experience because the focus is exclusively on them and not the expertise of the Therapist. Many therapists are convinced of the value of this approach and in particular the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. Linda Seligman (see Notes x) states that; “Research has substantiated the importance of the client-therapist relationship” Also that it, “Offers a perspective that is up-to-date and optimistic “ Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

This type of therapy has been successful in treating clients who present with relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and phobias. Clients who have experienced trauma also benefit from the creation of a safe environment in which to focus on the here and now.

Gerald Corey (see Notes xi) comments that;

“The person-centred approach can be applied to working with individuals, groups and families”

Further to this he states;

“It could also be used in counselling people with unwanted pregnancy, illness or loss of a loved one. When compared with other therapies such as goal-focused therapies, person-centred therapy has been shown to be as effective as them” He also includes the following reference;

“The person-centred approach has been successful in treating problems including anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, and personality disorders.” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005) Bozrath, Zimring & Tausch as cited by Corey (2005) However there are some therapists who question the effectiveness of this method. Some criticisms have been raised about the looseness of theory and principles, and the reliance on client self-evaluation as a means of judging success. Concerns are felt that some clients prefer a more structured and directive approach when dealing with problems, and that they do not benefit from the lack of intervention or any solution-focussed therapy.

There is also a belief that this type of approach pre-supposes intelligence and articulation on behalf of the clients. Some clients may have communication problems or a mental illness that prevents them from achieving any kind of successful outcome. Whilst agreeing with some aspects, Gerald Corey believes that it; “Could be an ineffective way to facilitate therapy if the therapist is non-directive and passive” He further adds that;

“The approach may lead therapists to just be supportive of clients without challenging them” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005)
Linda Seligman raised this concern;
“Listening and caring might not be enough” Also it, “may not be useful
with significant psychopathology” She points out that;
“Person-centred therapy does not draw on developmental, psychodynamic or behavioural therapy thus limiting the overall understanding of clients” Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to say that I am an admirer of Carl Rogers. As a Psychologist he was creative, original and ground-breaking. As a Philosopher he displayed compassion, simplicity and humility. I recognise his achievements and echo the distinction of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Whilst agreeing with his emphasis on the importance of the therapeutic relationship, I do not feel convinced that this approach would be successful in the treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am referring, in particular, to those who suffer from severe Personality Disorders as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(see Notes xi) These are known as ‘Cluster B’ and include Borderline, Anti-social, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders. These individuals lack insight and empathy and by reason of their illness are unable to benefit from any kind of ‘talking therapies’. Also I have concerns as to whether this type of therapy would benefit a huge range of cultural and ethnic differences. It does appear to me that there is a faint whiff of elitism within this approach.

It may be cynical to suggest that this therapy seems to focus on those who are, to coin an irreverent phrase, ‘free, white and 21’ Further to this I believe that using only one approach minimises the effectiveness and skill-set of the therapist. With an inclusive or integrated method, a therapist is not confined in any way. Individuals respond well to a variety of methods depending on personal choice. Some approaches are easier to comprehend and assimilate. Some clients may need less time, gaining information and help from say, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in far fewer sessions. Of course there is always a financial consideration which plays a dominant role in selecting the right therapist. In conclusion, therefore, I do not think the claim that ‘Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients’ is either valid or realistic.

Notes

(i)Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was a Greek Philosopher whose ideas offended the elitist segment of the Athenian State. He was charged with heresy and stood trial for his crimes in 399 BC. It was Plato who recorded the words of Socrates in his “Dialogues” and “Apology” The latter was his recollection of the events of the trial. Socrates denied his crimes and famously chose death rather than exile from Athens in 399 BC. (ii)Lao Tsu was a Mystic Philosopher in 6th Century BC, China. He is credited as being the ‘Father of Taoism’ and the author of “Tao te Ching” There remains some controversy over the existence of Lao Tsu but for the purposes of this essay I will assume his authorship. (iii)“Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children”(1931) “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”(1939) “Counselling and psychotherapy”(1942) “Counselling With Returned Servicemen”(1945) Client-centred Therapy”(1951) “Psychotherapy and Personality Change” (1954) “On becoming a person”(1961) “The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact: A Study of Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics“(1967) “Man and the Science of Man”(1968) “ Person to Person”(1968) “Freedom To Learn: A View of What Education Might Become” (1968)“Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”(1970) “Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives”(1972) “Carl Rogers on Personal Power: Inner Strength and its Revolutionary Impact”(1977) “Freedom to learn for the 80’s” (1980) “A Way of Being (1980) (iv)Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to become President of the United States in 1933.

He was a Democrat and the only President to be re-elected a further two times. His New Deal was designed to bring economic stability, growth and reform to a nation struggling with Depression and the after-effects of World War 1. He died in office towards the end of World War 1. (v)Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard studied with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago and acquired a PhD in 1959. He is an Honourary Fellow in Psychology at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. (vi)Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish Philosopher. He was also a Theologian and a Poet. Kierkegaard was deeply concerned with the misery and suffering of humanity.

He also wrote many works questioning the nature of structured or organised religion, preferring to focus on the ethical and moral considerations inherent in a direct relationship with God. He is held by some to be the first Existential Philosopher. (vii)Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a contemporary of Carl Rogers. An American Humanistic Psychologist who was the Architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs” Maslow was passionate in his belief that every individual contained the drive to achieve ‘peak experiences’ or ‘self-actualise’. He developed this Theory on the premise that basic physical, emotional and mental needs by necessity should be met first. (viii)Dave Mearns is a Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. Mick Cooper is an Existential Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. (ix)Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia. (x)Linda Seligman was Professor Emerita of Counselling and Development in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, Virginia. She died in 2007 (xi)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by Clinicians, Health Organizations, Insurance Companies, Researchers and the Legal System. It provides the standard criteria for the classification of Mental Disorders.

References

•Barrett-Lennard G.T (2007) Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F. Schmid and Gill Wyatt (eds) The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling Basingstoke Hampshire; Palgrave Macmillan •Corey G. (2005) Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (7th edition.). Belmont CA; Thomson Learning. •Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell ) Tao te Ching (1999) London; Francis Lincoln Limited •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London; Sage Publications Ltd •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2007) Person-Centred Counselling In Action (3rd edition) London; Sage Publications Ltd •Rogers C. R (1951) Client-Centred Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change; Journal of Consulting Psychology (1957) 21 95-103 •Rogers C.R (1959) A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework New York; McGraw-Hill •Rogers C.R (1961)

On Becoming a Person. A Therapist’s view of Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R (1967) Autobiography. E.G Boring and G Lindzey (eds) A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 5 New York; Appleton-Century-Crofts •Seligman L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey; Pearson Education

(Word-count 2740)

Karey Kennedy-Skipton
Course Code SOUTH2S 13
15 June 2013

Evaluate the claim that Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients.

Contents

Introduction
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Theoretical Constructs
Strengths and Weaknesses
Conclusion

Notes
References

Introduction

In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title. Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences. In this essay I will explore the main theoretical constructs. Following on from this I will look at the advantages of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. Although Carl Rogers inspired many, he was not without his Critics. Therefore I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint. I will end with my evaluation of the claim itself and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusions.

Carl Rogers
Background and Influences

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable and hard-working. His Father was a Civil Engineer and his Mother a stay-at-home housewife. Carl was the fourth child in a family of six children. Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict adherence to Christian principles. She was a committed member of the local Pentecostal Church. He received a Classical education and came into contact with the works of Thomas Aquinas, Plato and Socrates. These Philosophers generated an interest in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. In particular, Socrates (see Notes i) who claimed; “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “Know Yourself” Plato’s Apology (Translation Howard North Fowler 1966)

Socrates claimed that to obtain fulfilment, happiness and a sense of purpose it was necessary to look within to find the true value of life. A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality.

Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’ He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said … “Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy … “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii) During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories. He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase … “Will it work? Is it effective?”

Autobiography (1967)
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)… “Will it work? Will it do some good?”

The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) … Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely autonomy, the actualising tendency and empathy stemmed in part from the works of the Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow (see Notes vii) In short Carl Rogers was a man of his times. He lived through two World Wars, endured the great Depression and witnessed the growth of freedom and autonomy in 1960’s and 70’s America. He states that… “Non-directive or client-centred therapy… is a product of its time and cultural setting” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Theoretical Constructs

Carl Rogers believed that within each person or Organism there is a biological need to ‘Self-Actualise’. He describes this; “The organism has one basic tendency and striving- to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

This is a motivation to grow and to realise full developmental potential. This is a life-long process and involves self-regulation, discipline and awareness. For those who have loving family environments this inner guiding force is accessible and realistic. They are more able to trust their own thoughts and feelings, as these are effectively mirrored within the family group. Adequate space and attention is given to self-expression and exploration, oftentimes leading to greater autonomy and sense of fulfilment. In general they have a more positive self-concept and can rely on self- trust to help steer them through life’s varied experiences.

They also have a greater sense of purpose and are more open to experiencing a broad range of choices. Rogers referred to these individuals as ‘Fully Functioning’ with an ‘Internal Locus of Evaluation, in his work Client-Centred Therapy (1951) This occurs when an individual is able to acknowledge and comprehend their own ‘felt-sense’ of reality and rely on their own wisdom and experience to negotiate more positively through life. Roger’s notion of a ‘fully functioning person’ is encapsulated as; “a level of functioning marked by changingness, fluidity, richly differentiated reactions, by immediate experiencing of personal feelings, which are felt as deeply owned and accepted. “ On Becoming a Person (1961)

In opposition to this are those who live in toxic or dysfunctional environments. Their thoughts and feelings are rejected or denied by the group resulting in a desperate need for loving attention or ‘Positive Regard’(Client-Centred Therapy 1951) These individuals are subjected to a variety of ‘conditions’ before any kind of attention is given. These are referred to by Rogers as, “Conditions of Worth” (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) The developing self-concept is subsequently eroded by the criticisms and judgements lain upon it. In some cases it could be argued that the self-concept is in fact a direct reflection of the views of others. These individuals seek approval and avoid those behaviours which elicit disapproval. In contrast to the fully-functioning person these people have an ‘External Locus of Evaluation’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) relying, instead, upon the outside world to supply a sense of reality. In these cases their ‘Organismic Valuing Process’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) is supressed or rejected. Over time it becomes less of a trustworthy guide, as the individual learns to distrust their feelings and begins to distance him or herself from their internal reality. Unfortunately this often results in a perpetual and self-fulfilling sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, often leading to deep distress and some psychological disorders. Self-actualisation can be said at this point to become an altogether tough struggle for survival.

Rogers held that each individual has a unique perspective on his or her life. As such different meanings are derived from each personal experience and world-view. The Phenomenological Approach was developed from this. It effectively used the individual’s own experience as a basis for understanding their particular viewpoint. The therapist is then able to empathise with each individual’s deeply personal sense of self and the world. Rogers believed that every individual has the capacity for self-change and growth, without direction or intervention from a therapist. Therefore the techniques he employed were reflective, empathic and non-directive. He stipulated that for growth to occur the therapeutic relationship needs, ”necessary and sufficient conditions”

The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change (1957) These are;
1. That two persons are in psychological contact.
2.That the first person, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable, or anxious. 3.That the second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship. 4.That the therapist is experiencing unconditional positive regard toward the client. 5.That the therapist is experiencing empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client. 6.That the client perceives, at least to a minimal degree, conditions 4 and 5, the unconditional positive regard of the therapist, and the empathic understanding of the therapist. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework (1959)

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many benefits in adopting the Person-Centred approach in counselling and psychotherapy. The first being the quality of the therapist and the tools they bring to the healing process. The therapist focusses on the skills of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy is the ability to understand the point of view, or experiencing, of another without the loss of a separate sense of self and reality. In other words this means, to connect with another on a deeper level without censure or judgement. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper (see Notes viii) stipulate the following; “From a person-centred perspective a relationally deep meeting in therapy is one in which all six of Rogers’ ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for therapeutic personality development are present, with the ‘core conditions (3,4 and 5) in high degree” Working at Relational Depth (2005)

The value of this lies in the sense of safety and reliability for the client. It may be the first time they have felt valued and engaged with on a personal level. Clients feel safe enough to explore their innermost and deepest feelings, some of which have been hitherto ignored and suppressed. Being able to access these thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment allows clients to explore and express what they are feeling in the present moment. The greater the awareness, the greater the skills of autonomy and responsibility are realised by the client. . Therefore the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place in which the client feels empowered to develop their own skills of self-awareness and self-development.

The person-centred therapist holds the fundamental belief that clients contain within themselves all the resources needed for growth and change. Inherent in this belief is their avoidance of diagnosis, interpretations and direction during therapy. There is agreement among such therapists that theories and judgements can become blocks to empathy and as such focus on the problems and not the person. This challenges the conventional belief that clients are not able to understand or resolve their problems without direct help from the therapist. Therefore the client is in charge of the healing process. Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (see Notes ix) state that; “Of course crucial from a person-centred perspective, is that the location of the work is defined by the client.” Person-Centred Counselling In Action (2007)

In taking this view, therapists enable their clients to think and feel in the present moment, to gain greater insight and empower themselves by taking more responsibility for their lives. Clients can engage in an optimistic and positive experience because the focus is exclusively on them and not the expertise of the Therapist. Many therapists are convinced of the value of this approach and in particular the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. Linda Seligman (see Notes x) states that; “Research has substantiated the importance of the client-therapist relationship” Also that it, “Offers a perspective that is up-to-date and optimistic “ Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

This type of therapy has been successful in treating clients who present with relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and phobias. Clients who have experienced trauma also benefit from the creation of a safe
environment in which to focus on the here and now.

Gerald Corey (see Notes xi) comments that;

“The person-centred approach can be applied to working with individuals, groups and families”

Further to this he states;

“It could also be used in counselling people with unwanted pregnancy, illness or loss of a loved one. When compared with other therapies such as goal-focused therapies, person-centred therapy has been shown to be as effective as them” He also includes the following reference;

“The person-centred approach has been successful in treating problems including anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, and personality disorders.” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005) Bozrath, Zimring & Tausch as cited by Corey (2005) However there are some therapists who question the effectiveness of this method. Some criticisms have been raised about the looseness of theory and principles, and the reliance on client self-evaluation as a means of judging success.

Concerns are felt that some clients prefer a more structured and directive approach when dealing with problems, and that they do not benefit from the lack of intervention or any solution-focussed therapy. There is also a belief that this type of approach pre-supposes intelligence and articulation on behalf of the clients. Some clients may have communication problems or a mental illness that prevents them from achieving any kind of successful outcome. Whilst agreeing with some aspects, Gerald Corey believes that it; “Could be an ineffective way to facilitate therapy if the therapist is non-directive and passive” He further adds that;

“The approach may lead therapists to just be supportive of clients without challenging them” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005)
Linda Seligman raised this concern;
“Listening and caring might not be enough” Also it, “may not be useful with significant psychopathology” She points out that;
“Person-centred therapy does not draw on developmental, psychodynamic or behavioural therapy thus limiting the overall understanding of clients” Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to say that I am an admirer of Carl Rogers. As a Psychologist he was creative, original and ground-breaking. As a Philosopher he displayed compassion, simplicity and humility. I recognise his achievements and echo the distinction of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Whilst agreeing with his emphasis on the importance of the therapeutic relationship, I do not feel convinced that this approach would be successful in the treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am referring, in particular, to those who suffer from severe Personality Disorders as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(see Notes xi) These are known as ‘Cluster B’ and include Borderline, Anti-social, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders. These individuals lack insight and empathy and by reason of their illness are unable to benefit from any kind of ‘talking therapies’. Also I have concerns as to whether this type of therapy would benefit a huge range of cultural and ethnic differences.

It does appear to me that there is a faint whiff of elitism within this approach. It may be cynical to suggest that this therapy seems to focus on those who are, to coin an irreverent phrase, ‘free, white and 21’ Further to this I believe that using only one approach minimises the effectiveness and skill-set of the therapist. With an inclusive or integrated method, a therapist is not confined in any way. Individuals respond well to a variety of methods depending on personal choice. Some approaches are easier to comprehend and assimilate. Some clients may need less time, gaining information and help from say, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in far fewer sessions. Of course there is always a financial consideration which plays a dominant role in selecting the right therapist. In conclusion, therefore, I do not think the claim that ‘Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to
treat clients’ is either valid or realistic.

Notes

(i)Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was a Greek Philosopher whose ideas offended the elitist segment of the Athenian State. He was charged with heresy and stood trial for his crimes in 399 BC. It was Plato who recorded the words of Socrates in his “Dialogues” and “Apology” The latter was his recollection of the events of the trial. Socrates denied his crimes and famously chose death rather than exile from Athens in 399 BC. (ii)Lao Tsu was a Mystic Philosopher in 6th Century BC, China. He is credited as being the ‘Father of Taoism’ and the author of “Tao te Ching” There remains some controversy over the existence of Lao Tsu but for the purposes of this essay I will assume his authorship. (iii)“Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children”(1931) “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”(1939) “Counselling and psychotherapy”(1942) “Counselling With Returned Servicemen”(1945) Client-centred Therapy”(1951) “Psychotherapy and Personality Change” (1954) “On becoming a person”(1961) “The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact: A Study of Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics“(1967) “Man and the Science of Man”(1968) “ Person to Person”(1968) “Freedom To Learn: A View of What Education Might Become” (1968)“Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”(1970) “Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives”(1972) “Carl Rogers on Personal Power: Inner Strength and its Revolutionary Impact”(1977) “Freedom to learn for the 80’s” (1980) “A Way of Being (1980) (iv)Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to become President of the United States in 1933. He was a Democrat and the only President to be re-elected a further two times.

His New Deal was designed to bring economic stability, growth and reform to a nation struggling with Depression and the after-effects of World War 1. He died in office towards the end of World War 1. (v)Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard studied with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago and acquired a PhD in 1959. He is an Honourary Fellow in Psychology at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. (vi)Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish Philosopher. He was also a Theologian and a Poet. Kierkegaard was deeply concerned with the misery and suffering of humanity. He also wrote many works questioning the nature of structured or organised religion, preferring to focus on the ethical and moral considerations inherent in a direct relationship with God. He is held by some to be the first Existential Philosopher. (vii)Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a contemporary of Carl Rogers. An American Humanistic Psychologist who was the Architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs” Maslow was passionate in his belief that every individual contained the drive to achieve ‘peak experiences’ or ‘self-actualise’.

He developed this Theory on the premise that basic physical, emotional and mental needs by necessity should be met first. (viii)Dave Mearns is a Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. Mick Cooper is an Existential Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. (ix)Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia. (x)Linda Seligman was Professor Emerita of Counselling and Development in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, Virginia. She died in 2007 (xi)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by Clinicians, Health Organizations, Insurance Companies, Researchers and the Legal System. It provides the standard criteria for the classification of Mental Disorders.

References

•Barrett-Lennard G.T (2007) Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F. Schmid and Gill Wyatt (eds) The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling Basingstoke Hampshire; Palgrave Macmillan •Corey G. (2005) Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (7th edition.). Belmont CA; Thomson Learning. •Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell ) Tao te Ching (1999) London; Francis Lincoln Limited •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London; Sage Publications Ltd •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2007) Person-Centred Counselling In Action (3rd edition) London; Sage Publications Ltd •Rogers C. R (1951) Client-Centred Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change; Journal of Consulting Psychology (1957) 21 95-103 •Rogers C.R (1959) A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework New York; McGraw-Hill •Rogers C.R (1961) On Becoming a Person. A Therapist’s view of Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R (1967) Autobiography. E.G Boring and G Lindzey (eds) A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 5 New York; Appleton-Century-Crofts •Seligman L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey; Pearson Education

(Word-count 2740)

Karey Kennedy-Skipton
Course Code SOUTH2S 13
15 June 2013

Evaluate the claim that Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients.

Contents

Introduction
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Theoretical Constructs
Strengths and Weaknesses
Conclusion

Notes
References

Introduction

In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title.

Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences. In this essay I will explore the main theoretical constructs. Following on from this I will look at the advantages of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. Although Carl Rogers inspired many, he was not without his Critics. Therefore I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint. I will end with my evaluation of the claim itself and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusions.

Carl Rogers
Background and Influences

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable and hard-working. His Father was a Civil Engineer and his Mother a stay-at-home housewife. Carl was the fourth child in a family of six children. Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict adherence to Christian principles. She was a committed member of the local Pentecostal Church. He received a Classical education and came into contact with the works of Thomas Aquinas, Plato and Socrates. These Philosophers generated an interest in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. In particular, Socrates (see Notes i) who claimed; “The unexamined life is not worth living” and “Know Yourself” Plato’s Apology (Translation Howard North Fowler 1966)

Socrates claimed that to obtain fulfilment, happiness and a sense of purpose it was necessary to look within to find the true value of life. A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality. Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’

He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said … “Knowing others is intelligence;

Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy … “The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii) During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories. He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase … “Will it work? Is it effective?”

Autobiography (1967)
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)… “Will it work? Will it do some good?”

The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) … Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely autonomy, the actualising tendency and empathy stemmed in part from the works of the Humanistic Psychologist, Abraham Maslow (see Notes vii) In short Carl Rogers was a man of his times. He lived through two World Wars, endured the great Depression and witnessed the growth of freedom and autonomy in 1960’s and 70’s America. He states that… “Non-directive or client-centred therapy… is a product of its time and cultural setting” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

Theoretical Constructs

Carl Rogers believed that within each person or Organism there is a biological need to ‘Self-Actualise’. He describes this; “The organism has one basic tendency and striving- to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” Client-Centred Therapy (1951)

This is a motivation to grow and to realise full developmental potential. This is a life-long process and involves self-regulation, discipline and awareness. For those who have loving family environments this inner guiding force is accessible and realistic. They are more able to trust their own thoughts and feelings, as these are effectively mirrored within the family group. Adequate space and attention is given to self-expression and exploration, oftentimes leading to greater autonomy and sense of fulfilment. In general they have a more positive self-concept and can rely on self- trust to help steer them through life’s varied experiences. They also have a greater sense of purpose and are more open to experiencing a broad range of choices. Rogers referred to these individuals as ‘Fully Functioning’ with an ‘Internal Locus of Evaluation, in his work Client-Centred Therapy (1951) This occurs when an individual is able to acknowledge and comprehend their own ‘felt-sense’ of reality and rely on their own wisdom and experience to negotiate more positively through life. Roger’s notion of a ‘fully functioning person’ is encapsulated as; “a level of functioning marked by changingness, fluidity, richly differentiated reactions, by immediate experiencing of personal feelings, which are felt as deeply owned and accepted. “ On Becoming a Person (1961)

In opposition to this are those who live in toxic or dysfunctional environments. Their thoughts and feelings are rejected or denied by the group resulting in a desperate need for loving attention or ‘Positive Regard’(Client-Centred Therapy 1951) These individuals are subjected to a variety of ‘conditions’ before any kind of attention is given. These are referred to by Rogers as, “Conditions of Worth” (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) The developing self-concept is subsequently eroded by the criticisms and judgements lain upon it. In some cases it could be argued that the self-concept is in fact a direct reflection of the views of others. These individuals seek approval and avoid those behaviours which elicit disapproval. In contrast to the fully-functioning person these people have an ‘External Locus of Evaluation’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) relying, instead, upon the outside world to supply a sense of reality. In these cases their ‘Organismic Valuing Process’ (Client-Centred Therapy 1951) is supressed or rejected. Over time it becomes less of a trustworthy guide, as the individual learns to distrust their feelings and begins to distance him or herself from their internal reality. Unfortunately this often results in a perpetual and self-fulfilling sense of inferiority and low self-esteem, often leading to deep distress and some psychological disorders.

Self-actualisation can be said at this point to become an altogether tough struggle for survival. Rogers held that each individual has a unique perspective on his or her life. As such different meanings are derived from each personal experience and world-view. The Phenomenological Approach was developed from this. It effectively used the individual’s own experience as a basis for understanding their particular viewpoint. The therapist is then able to empathise with each individual’s deeply personal sense of self and the world. Rogers believed that every individual has the capacity for self-change and growth, without direction or intervention from a therapist. Therefore the techniques he employed were reflective, empathic and non-directive. He stipulated that for growth to occur the therapeutic relationship needs, ”necessary and sufficient conditions”

The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change (1957) These are;
1. That two persons are in psychological contact.
2.That the first person, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable, or anxious. 3.That the second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship. 4.That the therapist is experiencing unconditional positive regard toward the client. 5.That the therapist is experiencing empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavours to communicate this to the client. 6.That the client perceives, at least to a minimal degree, conditions 4 and 5, the unconditional positive regard of the therapist, and the empathic understanding of the therapist. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework (1959)

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many benefits in adopting the Person-Centred approach in counselling and psychotherapy. The first being the quality of the therapist and the tools they bring to the healing process. The therapist focusses on the skills of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. Empathy is the ability to understand the point of view, or experiencing, of another without the loss of a separate sense of self and reality. In other words this means, to connect with another on a deeper level without censure or judgement. Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper (see Notes viii) stipulate the following; “From a person-centred perspective a relationally deep meeting in therapy is one in which all six of Rogers’ ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for therapeutic personality development are present, with the ‘core conditions (3,4 and 5) in high degree” Working at Relational Depth (2005)

The value of this lies in the sense of safety and reliability for the client.
It may be the first time they have felt valued and engaged with on a personal level. Clients feel safe enough to explore their innermost and deepest feelings, some of which have been hitherto ignored and suppressed. Being able to access these thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment allows clients to explore and express what they are feeling in the present moment. The greater the awareness, the greater the skills of autonomy and responsibility are realised by the client. . Therefore the therapeutic relationship provides a safe place in which the client feels empowered to develop their own skills of self-awareness and self-development.

The person-centred therapist holds the fundamental belief that clients contain within themselves all the resources needed for growth and change. Inherent in this belief is their avoidance of diagnosis, interpretations and direction during therapy. There is agreement among such therapists that theories and judgements can become blocks to empathy and as such focus on the problems and not the person. This challenges the conventional belief that clients are not able to understand or resolve their problems without direct help from the therapist. Therefore the client is in charge of the healing process. Dave Mearns and Brian Thorne (see Notes ix) state that; “Of course crucial from a person-centred perspective, is that the location of the work is defined by the client.” Person-Centred Counselling In Action (2007)

In taking this view, therapists enable their clients to think and feel in the present moment, to gain greater insight and empower themselves by taking more responsibility for their lives. Clients can engage in an optimistic and positive experience because the focus is exclusively on them and not the expertise of the Therapist. Many therapists are convinced of the value of this approach and in particular the emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. Linda Seligman (see Notes x) states that; “Research has substantiated the importance of the client-therapist relationship” Also that it, “Offers a perspective that is up-to-date and optimistic “ Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

This type of therapy has been successful in treating clients who present with relationship issues, bereavement, depression, anxiety and phobias. Clients who have experienced trauma also benefit from the creation of a safe environment in which to focus on the here and now.

Gerald Corey (see Notes xi) comments that;

“The person-centred approach can be applied to working with individuals, groups and families”

Further to this he states;

“It could also be used in counselling people with unwanted pregnancy, illness or loss of a loved one. When compared with other therapies such as goal-focused therapies, person-centred therapy has been shown to be as effective as them” He also includes the following reference;

“The person-centred approach has been successful in treating problems including anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, and personality disorders.” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005) Bozrath, Zimring & Tausch as cited by Corey (2005) However there are some therapists who question the effectiveness of this method. Some criticisms have been raised about the looseness of theory and principles, and the reliance on client self-evaluation as a means of judging success.

Concerns are felt that some clients prefer a more structured and directive approach when dealing with problems, and that they do not benefit from the lack of intervention or any solution-focussed therapy. There is also a belief that this type of approach pre-supposes intelligence and articulation on behalf of the clients. Some clients may have communication problems or a mental illness that prevents them from achieving any kind of successful outcome. Whilst agreeing with some aspects, Gerald Corey believes that it; “Could be an ineffective way to facilitate therapy if the therapist is non-directive and passive” He further adds that;

“The approach may lead therapists to just be supportive of clients without challenging them” Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (2005)
Linda Seligman raised this concern;
“Listening and caring might not be enough” Also it, “may not be useful with significant psychopathology” She points out that;
“Person-centred therapy does not draw on developmental, psychodynamic or behavioural therapy thus limiting the overall understanding of clients” Theories of counselling and psychotherapy (2006)

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to say that I am an admirer of Carl Rogers. As a Psychologist he was creative, original and ground-breaking. As a Philosopher he displayed compassion, simplicity and humility. I recognise his achievements and echo the distinction of his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. Whilst agreeing with his emphasis on the importance of the therapeutic relationship, I do not feel convinced that this approach would be successful in the treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness. I am referring, in particular, to those who suffer from severe Personality Disorders as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.(see Notes xi) These are known as ‘Cluster B’ and include Borderline, Anti-social, Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders. These individuals lack insight and empathy and by reason of their illness are unable to benefit from any kind of ‘talking therapies’. Also I have concerns as to whether this type of therapy would benefit a huge range of cultural and ethnic differences.

It does appear to me that there is a faint whiff of elitism within this approach. It may be cynical to suggest that this therapy seems to focus on those who are, to coin an irreverent phrase, ‘free, white and 21’ Further to this I believe that using only one approach minimises the effectiveness and skill-set of the therapist. With an inclusive or integrated method, a therapist is not confined in any way. Individuals respond well to a variety of methods depending on personal choice. Some approaches are easier to comprehend and assimilate. Some clients may need less time, gaining information and help from say, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in far fewer sessions. Of course there is always a financial consideration which plays a dominant role in selecting the right therapist. In conclusion, therefore, I do not think the claim that ‘Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients’ is either valid or realistic.

Notes

(i)Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was a Greek Philosopher whose ideas offended the elitist segment of the Athenian State. He was charged with heresy and stood trial for his crimes in 399 BC. It was Plato who recorded the words of Socrates in his “Dialogues” and “Apology” The latter was his recollection of the events of the trial. Socrates denied his crimes and famously chose death rather than exile from Athens in 399 BC. (ii)Lao Tsu was a Mystic Philosopher in 6th Century BC, China. He is credited as being the ‘Father of Taoism’ and the author of “Tao te Ching” There remains some controversy over the existence of Lao Tsu but for the purposes of this essay I will assume his authorship. (iii)“Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children”(1931) “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”(1939) “Counselling and psychotherapy”(1942) “Counselling With Returned Servicemen”(1945) Client-centred Therapy”(1951) “Psychotherapy and Personality Change” (1954) “On becoming a person”(1961) “The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact: A Study of Psychotherapy with Schizophrenics“(1967) “Man and the Science of Man”(1968) “ Person to Person”(1968) “Freedom To Learn: A View of What Education Might Become” (1968)“Carl Rogers on Encounter Groups”(1970) “Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives”(1972) “Carl Rogers on Personal Power: Inner Strength and its Revolutionary Impact”(1977) “Freedom to learn for the 80’s” (1980) “A Way of Being (1980) (iv)Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was elected to become President of the United States in 1933. He was a Democrat and the only President to be re-elected a further two times. His New Deal was designed to bring economic stability, growth and reform to a nation struggling with Depression and the after-effects of World War 1. He died in office towards the end of World War 1. (v)Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard studied with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago and acquired a PhD in 1959. He is an Honourary Fellow in Psychology at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. (vi)Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish Philosopher. He was also a Theologian and a Poet. Kierkegaard was deeply concerned with the misery and suffering of humanity.

He also wrote many works questioning the nature of structured or organised religion, preferring to focus on the ethical and moral considerations inherent in a direct relationship with God. He is held by some to be the first Existential Philosopher. (vii)Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a contemporary of Carl Rogers. An American Humanistic Psychologist who was the Architect of the famous “Hierarchy of Needs” Maslow was passionate in his belief that every individual contained the drive to achieve ‘peak experiences’ or ‘self-actualise’. He developed this Theory on the premise that basic physical, emotional and mental needs by necessity should be met first. (viii)Dave Mearns is a Professor of Counselling at the University of Strathclyde. Mick Cooper is an Existential Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde. (ix)Brian Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia. (x)Linda Seligman was Professor Emerita of Counselling and Development in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, Virginia. She died in 2007 (xi)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by Clinicians, Health Organizations, Insurance Companies, Researchers and the Legal System. It provides the standard criteria for the classification of Mental Disorders.

References

•Barrett-Lennard G.T (2007) Mick Cooper, Maureen O’Hara, Peter F. Schmid and Gill Wyatt (eds) The Handbook of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling Basingstoke Hampshire; Palgrave Macmillan •Corey G. (2005) Theory and practice of counselling & psychotherapy (7th edition.). Belmont CA; Thomson Learning. •Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell ) Tao te Ching (1999) London; Francis Lincoln Limited •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London; Sage Publications Ltd •Mearns D. and Cooper M. (2007) Person-Centred Counselling In Action (3rd edition) London; Sage Publications Ltd •Rogers C. R (1951) Client-Centred Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change; Journal of Consulting Psychology (1957) 21 95-103 •Rogers C.R (1959) A theory of therapy, personality and interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centred framework New York; McGraw-Hill •Rogers C.R (1961) On Becoming a Person. A Therapist’s view of Therapy London; Constable •Rogers C.R (1967) Autobiography. E.G Boring and G Lindzey (eds) A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol 5 New York; Appleton-Century-Crofts •Seligman L. (2006). Theories of counselling and psychotherapy: Systems, strategies, and skills. (2nd edition.). Upper Saddle River New Jersey; Pearson Education

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