Rogerian Therapy Critique Essay

Carl Rogers 1902-1987

(Full name Carl Ransom Rogers) American psychologist.

Rogers was among the most influential figures of humanistic psychology, a school of psychotherapy that rejected medical and psychoanalytic models of treatment and instead put forth a theory of personality and behavior that presumed the source of psychological health ultimately resides in the individual person rather than in a program based on the expert knowledge and authority of a psychiatric professional. Rogers's specific form of humanistic psychology is broadly based on his view of human personality, which he believed naturally tended to develop in what he considered a healthy manner unless it is adversely influenced by life experiences. From this theoretical basis, Rogers created a form of therapy that he called “client-centered,” as opposed to forms of treatment that are directed by the expertise of the therapist.

Biographical Information

Rogers was born on January 8, 1902, in Oak Park, Illinois. One of six children born into the family of a contractor/engineer and his wife, he characterized his childhood environment as “anti-intellectual” and dominated by a religiosity of the fundamentalist type. Raised on a farm from the age of twelve, Rogers entered the Agricultural College of the University of Wisconsin in 1919, although he ultimately graduated with a degree in history. While in college he felt a religious calling and eventually began training to become a Protestant minister, and after graduating in 1924 he enrolled at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. From there he transferred to Teachers College at Columbia University in order to pursue counseling rather than the strictly religious aspect of his ministerial profession. He subsequently focused on clinical and educational psychology, writing his doctoral dissertation on personality adjustment in children. Throughout the 1930s, Rogers worked in the field of child psychology, and in 1940 he accepted a position as a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. It was at this time that he began to develop the theories and methodology for which he would later become renowned. The incipient concepts of Rogers's therapeutic approach appeared in his 1942 book Counseling and Psychotherapy, and within the next few years he developed his concept of the self as the organizing element in human personality and the principles of the “nondirective,” or client-centered, style of therapy. In 1945 he took a position as professor of psychology and head of the counseling center at the University of Chicago, where, over the next twelve years, he further refined and articulated his ideas, publishing Client-Centered Therapy (1951) during this time. A charismatic figure, Rogers's influence over students, colleagues, and various collaborators, as well as his publication of best-selling books such as On Becoming a Person (1961) and Person to Person (1967), made him the central figure in American humanistic psychology throughout his lifetime. In addition, with the establishment of the Center for the Study of Persons in 1968, the principles of the client-centered version of therapy came to be applied in other contexts and institutional settings, including marriage relationships, school systems, larger-scale community groups, and corporations. Until his death in 1987, Rogers remained active in promulgating his view of the nature of human personality and procedures for correcting psychological disorders.

Major Works

Rogers's therapeutic scheme as outlined in his books and practiced in therapy is premised on the existence within each individual of what he termed the “organismic valuing process,” sometimes described as an internal monitor of a person's experiences in life that, under favorable circumstances, allows the development of healthy men or women possessing optimum self-esteem and an accurate sense of who they “really are” as well as who they would ideally like to become. The obstacle to this development, according to Rogers, are conditions, primarily those inflicted by a child's parents, in which the individual is denied “unconditional positive regard” and is thereby influenced by either positive or negative “conditions of worth” which instill values and elicit behaviors that are at odds with a person's inborn organismic valuing process. The result of exposure to these conditions of worth is the development of individuals who look to the approval of others for their sense of identity rather than finding it within themselves. Consequently serious conflicts arise within the personality between its natural organismic valuing process and its perception of conditions of worth that are alien to it. Such conflicts are the source of the vast array of neurotic symptoms and disorders that have been catalogued since the inception of psychology as a professional discipline. In order to cure his patients, whom he called “clients” so as to relate to them in a more equitable manner than did doctors or traditional psychoanalysts, Rogers provided them with the unconditional positive regard they were denied previously by practicing “nondirective” techniques of therapy that avoided communicating to the client the judgmental or interpretive conditions to which they had already been subjected in life and which were only perpetuated in other therapeutic methods, especially psychoanalysis. A principal, perhaps inevitable, technique of nondirective therapy is that of “reflection,” whereby the therapist literally restates, or reflects back, whatever clients say so that they themselves may serve as the instrument of their own rehabilitation, gaining insight by their own direction into who they are and the type of person they would have become without the judgmental interference of others. In On Becoming a Person Rogers expressed his realization of the superior effectiveness of this technique as opposed to those of psychoanalytic or behaviorist schools of psychology. “Unless I had a need to demonstrate my own cleverness and learning,” he wrote, “I would do better to rely upon the client for the direction of movement.” By this means, clients were able to attain the highest goal of his client-centered, later renamed “person-centered” approach—that of “getting in touch with themselves.”

Critical Reception

Critiques of Rogers's person-centered therapy begin with his basic conception of human nature as tending toward the good and the healthy, not to mention his assumption of the very existence of a personal self toward which one might strive. Furthermore, critics of Rogers's theories maintain serious doubts that therapists can, or should, establish a relationship of unconditional positive regard in the case of dangerously violent persons. They also fail to understand how parents might put into practice his ideas when raising children whose behavior may sometimes be difficult to countenance with wholehearted approval. At best, Rogers's detractors claim, his ideas may be applied only among a limited range of clients, specifically those suffering from the milder forms of neurosis, acknowledging that while person-centered therapy may prove no more effective than any other method, it has yet to demonstrate that it is harmful in any way. Despite such criticisms, Rogers's theory of personality and his therapeutic methodology continue to gain adherents and have become among the most widely influential trends in the history of psychology.

In this essay I will be discussing the pros and cons of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of therapy for clients. I will also give asn understanding of exacntly what ‘PCT’ Person based therpay is. Itis important to describe first what we mean when discussing PCT. Person-Centred Therapy, also known as client-centred, Rogerian therapy or non-directive, is an approach to counselling and psychotherapy that has much of the responsibility for the treatment process on the client, with the therapist taking a non-directive role. Person centred therpay emphasises person to person relationship between the therapist and client and focuses on the client??s point of view; through active listening which the therapist tries to understand the clients present issues and emotions. In PCT the client determines the direction, course, speed and length of the treatment and the therapist helps increase the clients insight and self-understanding. Carl Ransom Rogers was an influential American psychologist, who, along side Abraham Maslow, was the founder of the humanist approach to clinical psychology. Therefore I will start with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences and his relevence to the essay title. Also In this essay I will explore the the main theory and the three core conditons. Following on from this I will look at the pros of this approach and consider its success in treating psychological disorders. It is without a doubt that Carl Rogers inspired many people, but he was not without his Critics, which is always likely when someone is bringing something new to the table. So I will include the difficulties and doubts expressed by other Practitioners in order to get an opposing viewpoint, which will include the cons of this approach. I will end my essay with my conclusion of the person centred therapy and the reasons why I have arrived at my conclusion.
Carl Rogers is known for inventing his own way of offering therapy which is called ‘person based therapy’ which I will go into more detail shortly. Carl Rogers was born in Illinois, Chicago, in 1902. His parents were middle-class, respectable hard-working people. 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. Carl Rogers’ early days were heavily influenced by his Mother’s strict attitude towards 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. It was These Philosophers which generated an interest in Carl, in the workings of the human mind and its influence on the life of the individual. ‘Carl Rogers claimed to be grateful that he never had one particular mentor, but was open to the influence of widely differing view points as well as his own experience and that of his colleagues and clients (Thorne, 1984). However reviewing his life and times it seems clear that a number of key people and circumstances influenced his thinking. The experience of living on a farm as a child taught Rogers about natures inevitability and its strength and growth. Intellectually he was immersed in liberal Protestant beliefs of Paul Tillich (1886-1965).
He was also strongly influenced by John Deweys emphasis on experience as a basis for learning (Zimring 1994). He was directly exposed to Dewey’s philosophy of no nonsense vigorous self- reliance , thoughtful exposure to experience and concern for others, when he attended a course given by William H Kilpatricka student of Dewey while at Teachers college in Columbia (Thorne, 1984) His strong religious background led him to want to become a minister, however a trip to China in the 1920s caused him to question his beliefs This experience forced him to broaden his mind, and come to the conclusion, “that sincere and honest people could believe in very divergent religious doctrines.” It caused him to question his parent’s strict religious world view and realized he could not agree with them. Rogers recalled that this was personally liberating and moved him to develop his own philosophy of life. It also influenced him to choose a different career’ reference
Carl Rogers also embraced the ideas of Abrham Muslow a humanism, and he also believed that personal growth was dependent upon environment. This belief became the basis for his development of client-centered therapy, later renamed person-centered therapy. Carl rogers embraced the person based theropy in the 1940’s. So this is why Carl rogers has such relevance to the essay on ‘person centreed therapy’ as he was the man who invented person centred therapy. This type of therapy came from the traditional model of the therapist as expert and moved instead toward a nondirective, empathic approach that empowers and motivates the client in the therapeutic process. The therapy is based on Rogers’s belief that every human being strives for positive and good in there lives and has also the capacity to fulfill his or her own potential.
In ways of therapy the person centreed approach does not have ‘techniques’ as such but by just offering what he named ‘the core conditions’ This involves the development and knowledge and reasearch of expressing the core conditions, the three core conditions which the therapist must endure to dliever the client based therpary appropriately include the following.

1) Empathy ‘ feeling ro atempting to feel what the client is expressing
2) Congruence- To be honest with the client at all times
3) Giving warmth without being non judgemental, positivity at all times- Always valueing the client regardless of how they have behaved

The therapist puts into practise this empathy by active listening that shows careful and perceptive attention to what the client is saying. In addition to standard techniques, such as eye contact, that are common to any good listener, person-centred therapists employ a special method called reflection, which consists of paraphrasing and/or summarizing what a client has just said. This technique shows that the therapist is listening carefully and accurately, and gives the clients an added opportunity to examine their own thoughts and feelings as they hear them repeated by another person. Generally, clients respond well to this technique and they go further on the thoughts they have just expressed. According to Rogers, when these three attitudes (congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy) are practised by a therapist, clients can freely express themselves without having to worry about what the therapist thinks of them. The therapist does not attempt to change the clients thinking and mood in any way. Even negative expressions are accepted as appropriate experiences. Because of this non-directive approach, clients can find out which problems are important to them and explore these issues and not those ones considered important by the therapist, giving the client control ober there own throughts, feelings and judgement. Based on the principle of self-actualization, this undirected, uncensored self-exploration allows clients to recognize alternative ways of thinking that will promote personal growth. The therapist merely facilitates self-actualization by providing a climate in which clients can freely engage in focused, in-depth self-exploration. Which I think is a great idea and defently a pro working in carl rogers favour as being a positive part of the therapy.
Can the therapist activley put into practice congruence at all times? There is no right or wrong answer but dealing with a client who has come for help for something you dont agree with such as a ‘murderer’ or a ‘Phedophile’ is it possible to remain genuinene and speak the truth at all times! Carl rogers himself would remain genuine at all times and speak the truth as he felt the therapy would not work unless he stuck with his three core conditions. So in Carl rogers eyes the ways to be a good therpaist is to be honest with the clients. Congruence is about being genuine ‘ being yourself in your relationships with other people, without any pretence or fa??ade. When we are congruent, how we act and what we say is consistent with how we are feeling and what we are thinking. This is not always easy to do ‘ our own fears and anxieties can get in the way ‘ but with practice it can be developed. Unconditional positive regard is the therapist giving a non-judgemental value for the

Carl Rogers described six therapeutic conditions: Therapist-Client Psychological Contact: a relationship between client and therapist must exist, and it must be a relationship in which each persons perception of the other is important and must exist in order for the client to achieve positive personal change through therpay
1. Client Incongruence or Vulnerability: A discrepancy between the client’s self-image and actual experience leaves him or her vulnerable to fears and anxieties. The client is often unaware of the incongruence.
2. Therapist Congruence or Genuineness: The therapist should be self-aware, genuine, and congruent. This does not imply that the therapist be a picture of perfection, but that he or she be true to him- or herself within the therapeutic relationship.
3. Therapist Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR): The clients’ experiences, positive or negative, should be accepted by the therapist without any conditions or judgment. In this way, the client can share experiences without fear of being judged.
4. Therapist Empathy: The therapist demonstrates empathic understanding of the clients’ experiences and recognizes emotional experiences without getting emotionally involved.
5. Client Perception: To some degree, the client perceives the therapist’s unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding. This is communicated through the words and behaviors of the therapist. -Reference-

Carl Roger’s person-centered approach to therapy widespread acceptance and is applied in areas of education, cultural relations, nursing, interpersonal relations, and other service and aid-oriented professions and arenas. Rogers’s psychological theories have influenced modern psychotherapy and have directly impacted the field of mental health. So again Carl Rogers centre based theropy is seen as a positve advantage in the therapy world.
Also While person-centred therapy is considered one of the major therapeutic approaches, along with psychoanalytic and cognitive-behavioural therapy, Carl Rogers influence is felt in schools of therapy other than his own. The concepts and methods he developed are used by many different types of counsellors and therapists. Alotugh a lot of therapists regard carl rogers therapy as great and postive there have been others which have critisied him and his therpay. Not everyone would agree that the person centred approach has great effects I will out outlay some negative effects this kind of therapy can have on the client and the therapy as a whole.

Although this theory has become increasingly mainstream ans accepted over time, a major weakness is that it does not sufficiently acknoledge stages of development Due to his emphasis on a conscious experience. But this criticism is not on a whole, justified. He directly acknowledges the unconscious in later writings, seeing it as “positive”. Furthermore, the whole idea of congruence/incongruence and wisdom involves the idea of an unconscious and he clearly posits an organism that has many experiences of which the person is not aware. While Carl Rogers contribution in the area of psychotherapy is incredibally substantial, clinical applicability of his therapy may be limited to those people of the world whose intellectual and cultural backgrounds are compatible with this therapy.
This theory’s development from therapeutic practice may be both a blessing a curse. It keeps it practical and bases it in human experience, yet leads to the extension of concepts that while appropriate to therapy may not be specific enough to apply to abolutely everyone. So that is a Con and goes against the person centred therapy as not everyone can benefit from having this therapy.
Some human conditions, such as psychopathy, do not make much sense according to this theory. If we look at the psychopath, apparently they feel no guilt, discomfort or remorse for her/his actions. There is no anxiety, Incongruence is not apparent, although the theory suggests it would be substantial. I also wonder about those human beings that have limited potentialities in the first place. Is someone “fully functioning” if they have fulfilled all potential, even though there is an extremely limited amount in the first place? The capacity for creativity and free expression might not exist in such a case. Despite my questions and criticism, this theory’s value is substantial and should not be minimized. It offers a reasonable alternative to alternative theories that would have us controling human beings. It also recognizes people as the most important focus in the study of personality.
So my overall conclusion is that Person-Centred Therapy gives the therapist many great tools to work with and treat the client successfully in a positive way, but at the same time I think that this approach on its own will not be to all clients tastes, but will work very well in combination with other types of therapy. Clients who have a strong sence in the direction of exploring themselves and their feelings and who value personal responsibility who also like the feel of remaining in control of themselves may be particularly attracted to the person-centred approach. Those who would like a counsellor to offer them more in depth advice, to diagnose their problems, or to analyse them will probably find the person-centred approach less helpful and a negative experience. Clients who would like to address specific psychological habits or patterns of thinking may find some kind of advantage in the helpfulness of the person-centred approach, as the individual therapeutic styles of person-centred counsellors vary widely, and some will feel more able than others to engage directly with these types of concerns. So it really depends on the type of person you have as a client for the person centred approach to have a helpful effect on as every client who walks in the door is completely different to the next. In my own personal opinion im am more in favour of the therpy as I feel we have everything in our minds to overcome obtacles we face in our lives.

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