Person-Centered Theory a.k.a., Humanistic or Rogerian Therapy
Person-Centered Therapy(A reaction against the directive and psychoanalytic approaches) • Challenges: • The assumption that “the counselor knows best” • The validity of advice, suggestion, persuasion, teaching, diagnosis, and interpretation • The belief that clients cannot understand and resolve their own problems without direct help • The focus on problems over persons Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 7 (1)
Overview • Founder: Carl Rogers. Born in Oak Park, IL-1902. Trained at University of Wisconsin and Columbia University. His educational background was in agriculture, science, philosophy, theology, education and psychology. Fundamental shift in theory from helper-to-client to person-to-person.
Person-Centered Therapy • Emphasizes: • Therapy as a journey shared by two fallible people • The person’s innate striving for self-actualization • The personal characteristics of the therapist and the quality of the therapeutic relationship • The counselor’s creation of a permissive, “growth promoting” climate • People are capable of self-directed growth if involved in a therapeutic relationship Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 7 (2)
Major philosophies and nature of humans • Human beings are essentially rational, constructive, positive, independent, realistic, cooperative, trustworthy, accepting, forward moving and full of potential. Humans, like all organisms, naturally tend toward actualization of their full potential. (Gilliland & James, 1998) • Experience is key to Rogerian theory. Because each person’s perception of his or her own experience is unique, the client is the only expert on his or her own life.
Major constructs • Actualizing tendency. The inherent tendency of the person to develop in ways that serve to maintain or promote growth. • Conditions of worth. A person’s worth is conditional when his or her self-esteem is based on significant others’ valuation of experience. • Congruence. The state of consonance among the person’s acting, thinking and feeling states. When experiences are wholly integrated into the self-concept. • Empathic understanding. One perceives as if one were the other person but without ever losing the “as if” condition. (Gilliland & James, 1998)
Major constructs • Experience (noun). All the cognitive and affective events within the person that are available or potentially available to his or her awareness. • Experience (verb). To receive the impact of all the sensory or physiological events happening at the present moment. • Genuineness. The state where there is no difference between the real and the perceived selves. • Organismic valuing process. The process whereby experiences are accurately perceived, constantly updated, and valued in terms of the satisfaction experienced by the person. (Gilliland & James, 1998)
Major constructs • Positive regard. The perception of the self-experience of another person that leads the individual to feel warmth, liking and respect for the acceptance of that person. • Positive self-regard. A positive attitude toward the self that is not dependent on the perceptions of significant others. • Self-actualization tendency. The tendency of the person to move toward achieving his or her full potential. • Self-Concept. The person’s total internal view of self in relation to the experiences of being and functioning within the environment. (Gilliland & James, 1998)
Major constructs • Self-Experience. Any event in the individual’s perceptual field that he or she sees as relating to the “self,” “me,” or “I.” • Unconditional Positive Regard. The individual’s perception of another person without ascription of greater or lesser worthiness to that person. It is characterized by a total rather than a conditional acceptance of the other person. • Unconditional self-regard. The perception of the self in such a way that no self-experience can be discriminated as being more or less worthy of positive regard than any other self-experience. (Gilliland & James, 1998)
The Self • According to Rogers, the Self: • Is organized and consistent • Includes one’s perceptions of all that comprises “I” or “me” • Includes the relationship among I or me an other people and features of life, as well as the value and importance of these relationships • Is available to consciousness but it is not always conscious at any given moment • The shape of the self is constantly changing, yet always recognizable (Walker & Brokaw, 2005)
A self actualized person has the following characteristics • Open to experience • Aware of all experience • Deal w/change in creative ways • Socially effective • Lives existentially • Lives in the here and now • Trusts self
Major personality constructs • Personality theory has not been of major concern to person-centered therapists, rather the manner in which change comes about in the human personality has been the focus. (Gilliland & James, 1998) • Each person is unique and has the ability to reach his or her full potential. • Once the self-concept is formed, two additional needs are acquired: • the need for positive regard from others • the need for positive self-regard
Nature of “maladaptivity” • Rogerian theory speaks primarily of “incongruence” as the primary maladaptivity. Maladaptivity relates to the blocks that are put in the road to actualization. (Gilliland & James, 1998) • Also, external locus of control and looking to others for worth are seen as maladaptive.
Major goals of counseling • The central focus of counseling is the client’s experiencing of feelings.
A Growth-Promoting Climate • Congruence - genuineness or realness • Unconditional positive regard- acceptance and caring, but not approval of all behavior • Accurate empathic understanding – an ability to deeply grasp the client’s subjective world • Helper attitudes are more important than knowledge Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 7 (3)
Major techniques/strategies • The most important technique in person-centered counseling is the establishment of the relationship between client and counselor as one of mutual trust and safety. The relationship is the beginning, the main event and the end of the counseling. The counselor deals directly, in the here and now, with the client’s feelings and experiences rather than intellectualize about the experiences. • Person-centered theory is a phenomenological approach—each person is unique.
Six Conditions(necessary and sufficient for personality changes to occur) 1. Two persons are in psychological contact 2. The first, the client, is experiencing incongruency 3. The second person, the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship 4. The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard or real caring for the client 5. The therapist experiences empathy for the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this to the client 6. The communication to the client is, to a minimal degree, achieved Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 7 (4)
Major roles of counselor and client • Because of the essential nature of the relationship, the major role of counselor is to create an atmosphere of genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding and to reflect content to the client. • The reflection may include the counselor’s own feelings so long as they are genuine and the counselor owns them as his or her own. • The challenges for the counselor lie in his or her willingness to also be changed by and grow through the counseling relationship and to be open and transparent to the client.
Major roles of counselor and client • The client’s role is to do, think, say or feel whatever they are experiencing in the moment. • Within the atmosphere of unconditional positive regard, the client will be able to experience his or her feeling about the experiences and the incongruence in his or her life and will by nature, know and choose the course toward growth and actualization.
The Therapist • Focuses on the quality of the therapeutic relationship • Serves as a model of a human being struggling toward greater realness • Is genuine, integrated, and authentic, without a false front • Can openly express feelings and attitudes that are present in the relationship with the client Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy - Chapter 7 (5)