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This project, emphasis is on the behavioral theory and humanistic theory. My research constructed chiefly on two behavioral theorists Burrhus Fredric Skinner and John Broadus Watson and two humanistic theorists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. In behavioral theory, the founder of psychological behaviorism, John Watson believed that internal thinking process could not be observed; therefore, psychologists should not focus on it. An American psychologist, Burrhus Fredric Skinner social philosopher behaviorist, inventor, and author, developed the theory of Operant conditioning believed we learn new behavior through traditional or operant conditioning and all behavior is learnt from the environment.
One of the early pioneers of humanistic psychology was Abraham Maslow; he established the hierarchy levels of needs and believed that by achieving the needs in the correct order would allow individuals to become self-actualized.
However, Carl Rogers a psychologist and father of Client–centered theory felt that in addition to Maslow’s hierarchical needs, in order for someone to achieve self-actualization they need to be in a positive environment.
Which would provide them with, approval, understanding and authenticity, and if one were deprive of such nourishment in an environment, healthy personalities and relationships would be unable to blossom.
Emphasis of the humanistic perspective is on the self, which interprets into “you”, and “your” opinion of “your” experiences. This assessment claims that you are permitted to select your own performance, rather than responding to environmental stimuli and reinforcers. Such as matters dealing with self-esteem, self-fulfilment, and needs are vital, the chief focus is to enable personal development.
There are two major theorists associated with this view Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Carl Rogers feels that each individual functions from an exceptional frame of reference in terms of building self-regard or his or her self-concept. As we know, self-concept is one’s own belief about one’s self. Such beliefs stem, in part, from the perception of unconditional positive affection which occurs when individuals, (especially parents), exhibit unconditional love, and conditional positive affection happens when that love appears only when certain conditions are met.
Rogers’s theory states that psychologically healthy people enjoy life to the fullest; hence, they are seen as fully functioning individuals. Carl believed that, along with Maslow’s hierarchical needs a loving, respectable, and truthful environment has a big part to play in developing a person, and without such commodities in the environment; healthy personalities and relationships would not be able to grow. Nevertheless, Abraham Maslow developed his theory not by studying mentally ill patients, (which is where much psychological knowledge derived from), but by studying healthy, productive, creative individuals lives and careers. Maslow felt that individuals have definite needs that must be met in a hierarchical fashion, from the lowest to highest.
These comprise f basic needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, achievement needs, and ultimately, self-actualization, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the needs must be achieve in order. For example, one would be incapable of fulfilling their safety needs if their physiological needs are not met. This theory founded upon the knowledge that everyone has the prospective to contribute to the social order and be a respectable person if his or her needs are attained.
Humanistic psychology introduced in the 1950’s as a movement to bring psychology to an understanding of what it means to be a person. The theory took psychology beyond unconscious thoughts, beliefs or behavioral responses to stimuli, to a process of understanding free will, feelings, ethics and relationships with others. Humanistic psychotherapy was initially promoted as a “third force” in psychotherapy. Humanistic theory seems to provide both the therapist and client the opportunity to focus on what the client is doing right, as well as the challenges that he or she may face. Given the emphasis on emotional genuineness, humanistic psychotherapists place a great deal of importance on the therapist ¬client relationship.
One could argue that humanistic theory cannot be taken seriously because it is intent on blending the medical and scientific along with philosophy and subjectivity. Yet, if the APA affirms that, the theory’s focus is “on people’s capacity to make rational choices and develop to their maximum potential” (APA.org), it is difficult to determine if the critics of the theory have a valid case. Nevrtheless, added methodologies also identify the significance on the therapist ¬client relationship, viewing the relationship mainly as a means of providing the treatment. In humanistic therapy, the relationship is the treatment.
The Major Concepts of Humanistic Theory
Humanism came about as a reaction to the theories of psychoanalysis and behaviourism. Humanists felt that focusing on unconscious thoughts in psychoanalysis ignored the thoughts humans were having and the experiences they caused. Unlike behaviourists, humanists felt humans have more control over their responses than to simply be a puppet to conditioning. These new thinkers focused on what it was to be human and the entire spectrum of human feeling.
Qualitative Research and Idiographic Approach
•The humanists believed that statistics and numbers told very little about the human experience and were, therefore, irrelevant as research. The only thing that mattered was so-called qualitative research, such as case studies, unstructured interviews and diary accounts. This also outlines an idiographic approach, or studying individuals. Only by experiencing what it means to be human can the researcher truly understand what a person is going through. Humanists believed in studying individuals in-depth to understand the human condition. The Self and Congruence
•Humanists believed that the ultimate aim of human beings was to achieve a state of congruence. This is when the actual self is the same as the ideal self. They believed in the constant pursuit of self-knowledge and self-improvement to achieve this state. All people are thought to have inherent worth merely by being human. A person’s actions may be positive or negative, but that does not affect his worth. Holism
•The person in humanism is studied as a whole. She is not looked at in separate parts but is looked at as an entire unit. The theories that came before the humanists focused on the unconscious mind or observable behavior rather than on how a person thinks and feels. This theory was groundbreaking for focusing on what it means to be human rather than the scientific, laboratory data that other theories produced. Hierarchy of Needs
•Abraham Maslow was one of the pioneers of the humanist movement. He developed a pathway of needs that people must meet in order to achieve self-actualization or congruence. It starts off with the need for physical things, such as air, food and water. The pyramid moves on to the need for safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and then knowledge. It ends with the pursuit of aesthetics and then self-actualization. This is where a person achieves his entire potential. This is a point not many people ever reach.
•People who believe in free will believe that humans have the ability to choose how to live their lives free of any external forces making them chose. Humanists believe that all people have this ability and can exercise it at any time. Instead of believing that things such as behavioral conditioning or animalistic drives determine our choices, humanists believe that we naturally want to choose the positive path and will do so freely
Theoretical Concepts Underlying Humanistic Theory
The motivation for the development of humanism was a reaction against the idea of the human as a machine, towards a holistic and inherently optimistic view of people. The humanistic or “third force” perspective is based on the belief that the sources of personal distress lie in the conscious mind and result from experience (George Boeree 1998b). Maslow developed a theory of personal motivation based on the idea of a hierarchy of needs (Noel Sheehy 2004 p163, George Boeree 1998a). At the top of this hierarchy Maslow believed was the possibility of self-actualisation, but he saw it as a rare achievement reached by only a very few people, since in his theory all lower-level needs had to be met before self-actualisation could take place.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Rogers also believed in self-actualisation, but in contrast to Maslow, believed that it was a motivating force in all humans he saw babies as the best examples of self-actualisation. This led to the core concept in humanistic theory the Actualising Tendency (Steve Vincent 1999). This is the tendency to thrive that is built-in to human beings. This tendency also implies that people are inherently good and healthy this is a given. The emphasis then in humanistic therapies is on the “potentiality model” of human development rather than the “deficiency model” of other therapies (Dave Mearns et al. 2000 p33). Rogers proposed that distress is a result of incongruence in the individual (George Boeree 1998b, Brian Thorne 2003 p31).
The greater the incongruence, the greater the distress. Incongruity is the difference between the Real Self, which is the you that you can become as a result of self-actualisation, and the Ideal Self, which is the you created by external pressures such as society, family. Thus incongruence is like the tension in an elastic band attaching the two selves the greater the separation the greater the tension. A person has a basic need for Positive Regard. However, in society this is made conditional there are social attitudes that say you are only worthy if you conform. These Conditions of Worth combine with the in-built need for positive regard to create Conditional Positive Regard and this shapes the Ideal Self as something other than the Real Self conditions of worth push the ideal self away from the real self and generate incongruence. In time this force becomes internalised as Conditional Positive Self-Regard so the person generates their own incongruence.
The aim of therapy is to achieve Congruence the situation where Real Self and Ideal Self match or at least decrease incongruence and therefore distress (Carl R. Rogers 1961 p279). This is achieved by building an unconditional sense of self-worth which then gets internalised as Unconditional Positive Self-Regard. In the therapeutic relationship, counsellor and client form a personal relationship rather than a power-based professional one and it is the quality of this relationship that is key to success. It is Rogers’ claim that there are just three Core Conditions which a therapist must achieve for therapy to be effective (Carl R. Rogers et al. 1967 p89). The first is that the counsellor must be Congruent that is, without a front or professional mask in the therapeutic relationship and that the counsellor must share this congruence with the client. Secondly, the counsellor must be Empathic towards the client, that is they experience the client’s internal world and can share this with the client, but without losing the separation between the counsellor’s world and the client’s. Finally, the counsellor’s view of the client must be one of Unconditional Positive Regard, one of accepting and prizing the client as a whole, without reservations or judgements.
There are other forms of humanistic therapy than the Rogerian person-centred approach. Probably the best known is Gestalt therapy, founded by Fritz Perls (Gary Yontef 1993, Frederick S. Perls 1957). This has much in common with Rogers’ theories in that it focuses on process rather than content, in which counsellor and client share their perception, with the intention of allowing the client to become aware of their internal process, how they are doing it and how they can change it. There is a strong emphasis on acceptance and self-valuing. One aspect of Gestalt theory that is not present in Rogerian theory is the idea of Unfinished Situations. The idea is that a person’s natural state is one of homeostasis. However, whenever something, such as an upsetting situation, happens to the person, that disturbs the balance. The normal outcome is that the person responds in such a way as to restore the balance or a different balance that accommodates a change. However, if the natural response is interrupted, for example by social pressures not to respond, the person stays out of balance. This is an unfinished situation and Gestalt therapy aims to finish this situation and restore balance again.
Critically Examine the Humanistic Theory
The humanistic theory has profoundly affected our society. It provided much of the impetus for a broad social movement of the 1960s and 1970s in which many people searched inward to find direction and meaning to their lives. It renewed the age-old debate about free will and determinism and focused attention on the need to understand the subjective or conscious experiences of individuals (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999). Rogers’s method of therapy, client-centered therapy, remains highly influential. And perhaps most important of all, humanistic theorists helped restore to psychology the concept of self that center of our conscious experience of being in the world. Yet the very strength of the humanistic viewpoint, its focus on conscious experience, is also its greatest weakness when approached as a scientific endeavor. Ultimately your conscious experience is known or knowable only to an audience of one you. Yet how can humanistic psychologists ever be certain that they are measuring with any precision the private, subjective experience of another person? Humanistic psychologists might answer that we should do our best to study conscious experience scientifically, for to do less is to ignore the very subject matter human experience we endeavor to know.
Indeed, they have been joined by cognitive psychologists in developing methods to study conscious experience, including rating scales and thought diaries that allow people to make public their private experiences to report their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes in systematic ways that can be measured reliably. Though verbal or written statements of private experiences are a step removed from consciousness itself, they provide a means that scientists can use to study people’s subjective experiences. Critics also contend that the humanistic approach’s emphasis on self fulfillment may lead some people to become self-indulgent and so absorbed with themselves that they develop a lack of concern for others. Even the concept of self-actualization poses challenges. For one thing, humanistic psychologists consider self-actualization to be a drive that motivates behavior toward higher purposes. Yet how do we know that this drive exists? If self-actualization means different things to different people one person may become self-actualized by pursuing an interest in botany, another by becoming a skilled artisan how can we ever measure self-actualization in a standardized way? To this, humanistic psychologists might respond that because people are unique, we should not expect to apply the same standard to different people.
Humanistic Theory Usefulness to Nursing Practice
Nurses provide individual care recognizing the holistic needs of the patient. Nurses seek to understand the health needs of the people they work with but also to change their behaviours, thoughts and feelings to enhance the well-being of the person, not only at present moment but also for the future. At times nurses need to provide very basic care for the people they work with but they are always looking to develop the person’s ability to be more independent in any area of their life. Nurses can use psychological research and theories to enhance their nursing practice, and most nursing practice has a foundation in psychology, sociology or biology. Nursing now has developed its own unique body of knowledge but other sciences can still enhance nurses’ understanding and practice.
Applying Theories to Healthcare Practice allows growth in a positive way for both the client and the nurse. Spontaneity, the importance of emotions and feelings, the right of individuals to make their own choices, and human creativity are the cornerstones of a humanistic approach to learning (Rogers, 1994; Snowman & Biehler, 2006). The major contribution that Rogers added to nursing practice is the understandings that each client is a unique individual, so, person-centered approach is practice in nursing. Humanistic theory is especially compatible with nursing’s focus on caring and patient centeredness an orientation that is increasingly challenged by the emphasis in medicine and health care on science, technology, cost efficiency, for profit medicine, bureaucratic organization, and time pressures. Like the psychodynamic theory, the humanistic perspective is largely a motivational theory. From a humanistic perspective, motivation is derived from each person’s needs, subjective feelings about the self, and the desire to grow.
A positive self-concept, and open situations in which people respect individuality and promote freedom of choice. Maslow (1954, 1987), best known for identifying the hierarchy of needs which he says plays an important role in human motivation and nursing care. At the bottom of the hierarchy are physiological needs (food, warmth, sleep); then come safety needs; then the need for belonging and love; followed by self-esteem. At the top of the hierarchy are self-actualization needs (maximizing one’s potential). Additional considerations include cognitive needs (to know and understand) and, for some individuals, aesthetic needs (the desire for beauty). An assumption is that basic-level needs must be met before individuals can be concerned with learning and self actualizing. Thus, clients who are hungry, tired, and in pain will be motivated to get these biological needs met before being interested in learning about their medications, rules for self care, and health education. Besides personal needs, humanists contend that self-concept and self-esteem are necessary considerations in any situation.
The therapist Carl Rogers (1961, 1994) argued that what people want is unconditional positive self regard (the feeling of being loved without strings attached). It is essential that those in positions of authority convey a fundamental respect for the people with whom they work. If a health professional is prejudiced against patients, then little will be healing or therapeutic in her relationship with them until she is genuinely able to feel respect for the patient as an individual. Rather than acting as an authority, say humanists, the role of any educator or leader is to be a facilitator (Rogers, 1994). Listening rather than talking is the skill needed. Because the uniqueness of the individual is fundamental to the humanistic perspective much of the learning experience requires a direct relationship.
Safe clinical environments, where humanistic principles can be taught through caring, role modeling, small group discussion, case discussions, attention to self-awareness and feelings, role playing. Humanistic psychology contends that feeling. Humanistic principles have been a cornerstone of self-help groups, wellness programs, and palliative care. Humanistic theory has also been found to be well suited to working with children and young patients undergoing separation anxiety due to illness, surgery, and recovery (Holyoake,1998) and for working in the areas of mental health and palliative care (Barnard, Hollingum, & Hartfiel, 2006). Similar to psychodynamic theory, a principal emphasis is on the healing nature of the therapeutic relationship (Pearson, 2006) and the need for nursing students and health professionals to grow emotionally from their healthcare experiences (Block & Billings, 1998).
Principles Derived From Humanistic Theory t o Improve Assess and Plan Care for Mentally Ill Client.
Sometimes people understand psychosis or schizophrenia to be unrelenting, even with the intervention of psychotherapy. It is contended herein that therapy, and humanistic therapy in particular, can be helpful to the psychotic individual, but, perhaps, the therapist may have difficulty understanding how this approach can be applied to the problems of psychosis. Although it is a prevalent opinion in our society that schizophrenics are not responsive to psychotherapy, it is asserted herein that any therapist can relate in a psychotic individual, and, if therapy is unsuccessful, this failure may stem from the therapist’s qualities instead of those of the psychotic individual. Carl Rogers created a theory and therapy indicated by the terms “umanistic theory” and “person-centered therapy”. This theoretical perspective postulates many important ideas, and several of these ideas are pertinent to this discussion. The first of these is the idea of “conditions of worth”, and the idea of “the actualizing tendency.” Rogers asserts that our society applies to us “conditions of worth”.
This means that we must behave in certain ways in order to receive rewards, and receipt of these rewards imply that we are worthy if we behave in ways that are acceptable. As an example, in our society, we are rewarded with money when we do work that is represented by employment. In terms of the life of a schizophrenic, these conditions of worth are that from which stigmatization proceeds. The psychotic individuals in our society, without intentionality, do not behave in ways that produce rewards. Perhaps some people believe that schizophrenics are parasites in relation to our society. This estimation of the worth of these individuals serves only to compound their suffering. The mentally ill and psychotic individuals, in particular, are destitute in social, personal and financial spheres. Carl Roger’s disapproved of conditions of worth, and, in fact, he believed that human beings and other organisms strive to fulfill their potential. This striving represents what Roger’s termed “the actualizing tendency” and the “force of life.” This growth enhancing aspect of life motivates all life forms to develop fully their own potential. Rogers believed that mental illness reflects distortions of the actualizing tendency, based upon faulty conditions of worth. It is clear that psychotic people deal with negatively skewed conditions of worth. It is an evident reality that the mentally ill could more successfully exist in the world if stigmas were not applied to them.
The mentally ill engage in self-denigration and self-laceration that culminate in the destruction of selfhood. This psychological violence toward the mentally ill is supported by non-mentally ill others. The type of self-abuse by psychotic individuals would certainly abate if the normative dismissal of the mentally ill as worthless is not perpetuated. In spite of a prevalent view that psychotic individuals are unsuccessful in the context of psychotherapy, Roger’s theory and therapy of compassion cannot be assumed to be unhelpful to the mentally ill. The key components of Rogers’ approach to psychotherapy include unconditional positive regard, accurate empathy and genuineness. Unconditional positive regard, accurate empathy and genuineness are considered to be qualities of the therapist enacted in relation to the client in terms of humanistic therapy.
These qualities are essential to the process of humanistic therapy. In terms of these qualities, unconditional positive regard is a view of a person or client that is accepting and warm, no matter what that person in therapy reveals in terms of his or her emotional problems or experiences. This means that an individual in the context of humanistic psychotherapy, or in therapy with a humanistic psychologist or therapist, should expect the therapist to be accepting of whatever that individual reveals to the therapist. In this context, the therapist will be accepting and understanding regardless of what one tells the therapist. Accurate empathy is represented as understanding a client from that person’s own perspective. This means that the humanistic psychologist or therapist will be able to perceive you as you perceive yourself, and that he will feel sympathy for you on the basis of the knowledge of your reality. He will know you in terms of knowing your thoughts and feelings toward yourself, and he will feel empathy and compassion for you based on that fact. . As another quality enacted by the humanistic therapist, genuineness is truthfulness in one’s presentation toward the client; it is integrity or a self-representation that is real. To be genuine with a client reflects qualities in a therapist that entail more than simply being a therapist. It has to do with being an authentic person with one’s client. Carl Rogers believed that, as a therapist, one could be authentic and deliberate simultaneously.
This means that the therapist can be a “real” person, even while he is intentionally saying and doing what is required to help you. The goal of therapy from the humanistic orientation is to allow the client to achieve congruence in term of his real self and his ideal self. This means that what a person is and what he wants to be should become the same as therapy progresses. Self-esteem that is achieved in therapy will allow the client to elevate his sense of what he is, and self-esteem will also lessen his need to be better than what he is. Essentially, as the real self is more accepted by the client, and his raised self-esteem will allow him to be less than some kind of “ideal” self that he feels he is compelled to be. It is the qualities of unconditional positive regard, accurate empathy and genuineness in the humanistic therapist that allow the therapist to assist the client in cultivating congruence between the real self and the ideal self from that client’s perspective. What the schizophrenic experiences can be confusing. It is clear that most therapists, psychiatrists and clinicians cannot understand the perspectives of the chronically mentally ill. Perhaps if they could understand what it is to feel oneself to be in a solitary prison of one’s skin and a visceral isolation within one’s mind, with hallucinations clamoring, then the clinicians who treat mental illness would be able to better empathize with the mentally ill. The problem with clinicians’ empathy for the mentally ill is that the views of mentally ill people are remote and unthinkable to them.
Perhaps the solitariness within the minds of schizophrenics is the most painful aspect of being schizophrenics, even while auditory hallucinations can form what seems to be a mental populace. Based upon standards that make them feel inadequate, the mentally ill respond to stigma by internalizing it. If the mentally ill person can achieve the goal of congruence between the real self and the ideal self, their expectations regarding who “they should be” may be reconciled with an acceptance of “who they are”. As they lower their high standards regarding who they should be, their acceptance of their real selves may follow naturally. Carl Rogers said, “As I accept myself as I am, only then can I change.” In humanistic therapy, the therapist can help even a schizophrenic accept who they are by reflecting acceptance of the psychotic individual. This may culminate in curativeness, although perhaps not a complete cure. However, when the schizophrenic becomes more able to accept who they are, they can then change. Social acceptance is crucial for coping with schizophrenia, and social acceptance leads to self-acceptance by the schizophrenic.
The accepting therapist can be a key component in reducing the negative consequences of stigma as it has affected the mental ill patient client. This, then, relates to conditions of worth and the actualizing tendency. “Conditions of worth” affect the mentally ill more severely than other people. Simple acceptance and empathy by a clinician may be curative to some extent, even for the chronically mentally ill. If the schizophrenic individual is released from conditions of worth that are entailed by stigmatization, then perhaps the actualizing tendency would assert itself in them in a positive way, lacking distortion.
In the tradition of person-centered therapy, the client is allowed to lead the conversation or the dialogue of the therapy sessions. This is ideal for the psychotic individual, provided he believes he is being heard by his therapist. Clearly, the therapist’s mind will have to stretch as they seek to understand the client’s subjective perspective. In terms of humanistic therapy, this theory would seem to apply to all individuals, as it is based upon the psychology of all human beings, each uniquely able to benefit from this approach by through the growth potential that is inherent in them. In terms of the amelioration of psychosis by means of this therapy, Rogers offers hope.
Behavioral Treatment Modalities that Evolved from Humanistic Theory
Treatment modalities can be simply defined as methods of treatment. These are ways in which a doctor or an allied health professional would go about treating a condition. The major behavioral treatments in Humanistic Theory are:
Carl Rogers and his client-centered therapy provide a clear example of the humanistic focus on the therapeutic relationship. Rogers wrote extensively about the process of fostering a warm and genuine relationship between therapist and client. He particularly noted the importance of empathy, or emotional understanding. Empathy involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and conveying your understanding of that person’s feelings and perspectives. The client-centered therapist does not act as an “expert” who knows more about the client than the client knows about himself or herself. Rather, the therapeutic goal is to share honestly in another human’s experience. Rogers encouraged self-disclosure on the part of the therapist, intentionally revealing aspects of the therapist’s own, similar feelings and experiences as a way of helping the client.
Rogers also felt that client-centered therapists must be able to demonstrate unconditional positive regard for their clients. Unconditional positive regard involves valuing clients for who they are and refraining from judging them. Because of this basic respect for the client’s humanity, client-centered therapists avoid directing the therapeutic process. According to Rogers, if clients are successful in experiencing and accepting themselves, they will achieve their own resolution to their difficulties. Thus client-centered therapy is nondirective.
Gestalt therapy is a humanistic form of treatment developed by Perls. Perls viewed life as a series of figure-ground relationships. For example a picture is hanging on a wall. The picture is a figure and the wall is the back ground. For a healthy person current needs can be perceived clearly in that person’s life, just as figure can be perceived against a distinct ground (background).when current needs are satisfied, they fade into the ground and are replaced by new needs, which stand out in their turn and are equally recognizable.
Perls believed that mental disorders represent disruptions in these figure-ground relationships. People who are unaware of their needs or unwilling to accept or express them are avoiding their real inner selves. They lack self awareness and self acceptance, they fear judgment of others. The technique of role playing that is to act out various roles assigned by the therapist.
Therapies Identified in Humanistic Theory and their Therapeutic Benefits to the Client.
The Benefits of Humanistic Therapy
Applying Theories to Healthcare Practice allows growth in a positive way for both the client and the nurse. Spontaneity, the importance of emotions and feelings, the right of individuals to make their own choices, and human creativity are the cornerstones of a humanistic approach to learning (Rogers, 1994; Snowman & Biehler, 2006). During humanistic therapy sessions, patients are treated in a manner that emphasizes their innate goodness and potential. The humanistic therapist is encouraged to act in a manner consistent with the themes of unconditional positive regard, empathy, genuineness, and congruence. In an article on the website of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, humanistic psychologist Stan Charnofsky described the benefits of humanistic therapy in this manner:
•“Humanistic therapy has a crucial opportunity to lead our troubled culture back to its own healthy path. More than any other therapy, Humanistic-Existential therapy models democracy. It imposes upon the client least of all. Freedom to choose is maximized. We validate our clients’ human potential.
Carl Rogers proposed that therapy could be simpler, warmer and more optimistic than that carried out by behavioral or psychodynamic psychologists. According to Carl Rogers he suggested that clients would be better helped if they were encouraged to focus on their current subjective understanding rather than on some unconscious motive or someone else’s interpretation of the situation. Rogers strongly believed that in order for a client’s condition to improve therapists should be warm, genuine and understanding. The starting point of the Rogerian approach to counseling and psychotherapy is best stated by Rogers (1986) himself. “It is that the individual has within himself or herself vast resources for self-understanding, for altering his or her self-concept, attitudes and self-directed behavior – and that these resources can be tapped if only a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided.” Rogers rejected the deterministic nature of both psychoanalysis and behaviorism and maintained that we behave as we do because of the way we perceive our situation. “As no one else can know how we perceive, we are the best experts on ourselves.” (Gross, 1992) Believing strongly that theory should come out of practice, Rogers developed his theory based on his work with emotionally troubled people and claimed that we have a remarkable capacity for self-healing and personal growth leading towards self-actualization.
He placed emphasis on the person’s current perception and how we live in the here-and-now. Theory is the notion of self or self-concept. This is defined as “the organized, consistent set of perceptions and beliefs about oneself”. It consists of all the ideas and values that characterize ‘I’ and ‘me’ and includes perception and valuing of ‘what I am’ and ‘what I can do’. Consequently, the self concept is a central component of our total experience and influences both our perception of the world and perception of oneself. For instance, a woman who perceives herself as strong may well behave with confidence and come to see her actions as actions performed by someone who is confident.
The self-concept does not necessarily always fit with reality, though, and the way we see ourselves may differ greatly from how others see us. For example, a person might be very interesting to others and yet consider himself to be boring. He judges and evaluates this image he has of himself as a bore and this valuing will be reflected in his self-esteem. The confident woman may have a high self-esteem and the man who sees himself as a bore may have a low self-esteem, presuming that strength/confidence are highly valued and that being boring is not. Person Centered Therapy
Personal Centered Therapy or client centered therapy.
The Rogerian client-centered approach puts emphasis on the person coming to form an appropriate understanding of their world and themselves. A person enters person centered therapy in a state of incongruence. It is the role of the therapists to reverse this situation. Rogers (1959) called his therapeutic approach client-centered or person-centered therapy because of the focus on the person’s subjective view of the world. Rogers regarded every one as a “potentially competent individual” who could benefit greatly from his form of therapy. The purpose of Roger’s humanistic therapy is to increase a person’s feelings of self-worth, reduce the level of incongruence between the ideal and actual self, and help a person become more of a fully functioning person. Client-centered therapy operates according to three basic principles that reflect the attitude of the therapist to the client: 1. The therapist is congruent with the client.
2. The therapist provides the client with unconditional positive regard. 3. The therapist shows empathetic understanding to the client. Congruence in Counseling Congruence is also called genuineness. Congruence is the most important attribute in counseling, according to Rogers. This means that, unlike the psychodynamic therapist who generally maintains a ‘blank screen’ and reveals little of their own personality in therapy, the Rogerian is keen to allow the client to experience them as they really are. The therapist does not have a façade (like psychoanalysis), that is, the therapist’s internal and external experiences are one in the same. In short, the therapist is authentic. Unconditional Positive Regard
The next Rogerian core condition is unconditional positive regard. Rogers believed that for people to grow and fulfill their potential it is important that they are valued as themselves. This refers to the therapist’s deep and genuine caring for the client. The therapist may not approve of some of the client’s actions but the therapist does approve of the client. In short, the therapist needs an attitude of “I’ll accept you as you are.” The person-centered counselor is thus careful to always maintain a positive attitude to the client, even when disgusted by the client’s actions. Empathy is the ability to understand what the client is feeling. This refers to the therapist’s ability to understand sensitively and accurately [but not sympathetically] the client’s experience and feelings in the here-and-now. An important part of the task of the person-centered counselor is to follow precisely what the client is feeling and to communicate to them that the therapist understands what they are feeling.
In the words of Rogers (1975), accurate empathic understanding is as follows: “If I am truly open to the way life is experienced by another person…if I can take his or her world into mine, then I risk seeing life in his or her way…and of being changed myself, and we all resist change. Since we all resist change, we tend to view the other person’s world only in our terms, not in his or hers. Then we analyze and evaluate it. We do not understand their world. But, when the therapist does understand how it truly feels to be in another person’s world, without wanting or trying to analyze or judge it, then the therapist and the client can truly blossom and grow in that climate.”
Because the person-centered counselor places so much emphasis on genuineness and on being led by the client, they do not place the same emphasis on boundaries of time and technique as would a psychodynamic therapist. If they judged it appropriate, a person-centered counselor might diverge considerably from orthodox counseling techniques. As Mearns and Thorne (1988) point out, we cannot understand person-centered counseling by its techniques alone. The person-centered counselor has a very positive and optimistic view of human nature. The philosophy that people are essentially good, and that ultimately the individual knows what is right for them, is the essential ingredient of successful person centered therapy as “all about
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