Born: 1902, Oak Park, Illinois, USA Nat: American Ints: Educational psychology, humanistic psychology, psychotherapy, personality and social psychology, philosophical and theoretical psychology Educ: BA University of Wisconsin, 1924; MA Teachers College, Columbia University, 1928; PhD Teachers College, Columbia University, 1931 Appts & awards: Resident Fellow, Center for Studies of the Person; Vice-President, American Orthopsy-chiatric Association, 1941-2; President: American Association for Applied Psychology, 1944-45, APA 1946-7, American Academy of Psychotherapists, 1956-8; Nicholas Murray Butler Medal (Silver), Columbia University, 1955; APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, 1956; Hon. DHL: Lawrence College, 1956, University of Santa Clara, 1971, Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, Cincinnati, 1984; Hon. D, Gonzaga University, 1968; Fellow, AAA&S, 1961-, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1962-3; Humanist of the Year, American Humanist Association, 1964; Distinguished Contribution Award, American Pastoral Counselors Association, 1967; Award of Professional Achievement, American Board of Professional Psychology, 1968; APA Division 29, Distinguished Professional Psychologist Award, 1972; APA First Distinguished Professional Contribution Award, 1972; Hon. DSc; University of Cincinnati, 1974, Northwestern University, 1978; Hon. PhD, University of Hamburg, 1975; Hon. DSocSci, University of Leiden, 1975;
Carl Rogers was the middle child in a large, close-knit, religious family. His early interests in the natural sciences led him first to the study of agriculture at the University of Wisconsin. After two years he decided to enter the ministry. Following a trip to China and the Philippines with the World Student Christian Federation, Rogers attended Union Theological Seminary, New York City, and later transferred to Teachers College, Columbia University, where he obtained a degree in clinical and educational psychology. As an intern at the Institute for Child Guidance, Rogers was impressed by the emphasis on eclectic psychoanalytic techniques and ideas, and much of his later work demonstrates this strong commitment to eclecticism. For example, he used a variety of research therapeutic techniques including projective tests (Rorschach and Thematic Apperception Test), personality inventories (such as the MMPI), rating scales and Q-technique. In 1928 he joined the staff of what was later to become the Rochester Guidance Center, and following a period of nine years as its director, he accepted a professorial position at Ohio State University (1940). In 1945 he accepted a professorship at the University of Chicago; there he directed the Counsel Center, where he elaborated his client-centred method of psychotherapy. In 1957 he moved to the University of Wisconsin, where he held positions in the departments of psychology and psychiatry. While at Wisconsin he used his approach and techniques with people with schizophrenia, but without the same level of success he had achieved with student populations while at Chicago. In 1964 he moved to La Jolla, California, where he joined the staff of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute and later helped to found the Center for Studies of the Person.
Rogers is best known for the development of a method of psychotherapy called non-directive or person-centred, and for his pioneering research on the therapy process. As a theoretician Rogers is primarily concerned with the development and growth of the person, and consequently his theory of personality is not as structurally explicit as many others. Two concepts are fundamental to his theory: the organism and the self. The organism is the physical creature that actually experiences the world. The totality of experiences constitute the organism's phenomenal field. It is impossible to know another's phenomenal field except through empathic inference. Rogers argues that behaviour is a function not of external reality or of surrounding stimuli but of the phenomenal field. Within a phenomenological framework, it is necessary to determine how people can separate fact from fiction and construct a correct representation of reality. For Rogers, the only way to test reality is to check the correctness of the information on which one's hypothesis about the world is based against other sources of information. In other words the person uses sensory information to supplement information stored up from previous experiences. Through experience a part of the phenomenal field becomes differentiated — this is the self. The self is defined as the ‘organized, consistent conceptual Gestalt composed of perceptions of the characteristics of the “I” or “me” and the perception of the relationship between the “I” or “me” to others and to various aspects of life, together with the values attached to these perceptions’. Rogers distinguishes between the self as it is (the self-structure) and the ideal self (what the person would like to be). The degree of congruence between the self and the organism determines maturity and psychological well-being. When the person's perceptions and interpretations reasonably reflect reality as perceived by others, the self and the organism are said to be congruent. When there is a significant discrepancy, people feel threatened and anxious and tend to think and behave in stereotypical or constricted ways. The organism is thought to have a single motivating force, the drive to self-actualization. Two important needs that are linked with the organism's drive to maintain and enhance itself are that for the positive regard of others and that for self-regard. In regarding the person as oriented towards growth, self-actualization and fulfilment. Rogers is similar to Jung, Adler, Maslow and Horney.
Rogers's chief concern is with understanding how incongruence develops and how self and organism can be made more congruent. In his person-centred psychotherapy, the therapist enters into an interpersonal relationship with the client rather than adopting a role of doctor (as in the doctor-patient model) or scientist (as in the scientist-subject model). Therapists are expected not to hide behind a professional facade but to let the client known their own thoughts and feelings. Accepting the thoughts and feelings of the client unconditionally allows the client to explore increasingly strange and novel feelings in themselves. Feeling safe is essential for the therapeutic process to work. Rogers came to the view that the therapeutic process is a model of all interpersonal relationships. He formulated a general theory of interpersonal relationships, which he summarized as follows. The theory assumes that if: (1) two people are minimally willing to be in contact, (2) each is able and minimally willing to communicate, and (3) contact continues over time, then the greater the degree of congruence of experience and communication in one person the stronger the tendency towards reciprocal communication and mutual understanding. His client-centred (later called person-centred) therapy is distinctive in three ways. First, it is founded on a belief in the capacity and potential of the client. Second, the therapeutic relationship is seen as pivotal — everything follows from the quality of the person-therapist relationship. Third, there is a belief that the progress of therapy follows a predictable pattern based on the interpersonal characteristics of the person-therapist relationship: when certain conditions exist a certain process will occur.
Rogers was a pioneer in the scientific investigation of the therapeutic process. The confidentiality of therapy sessions had acted as a barrier to research and fostered the growth of a mystique about counselling and psychotherapy. Rogers introduced the practice of recording therapy sessions with the client's permission and demonstrated that this neither interfered with nor jeopardized the process or outcome. Having a permanent record of a therapy session made possible the systematic analysis of therapist-client dialogue and opened up ways of identifying complex relationships that could not be detected in a session itself or from therapy. Rogers applied content analysis procedures to classify and count a client's statements in order to explore hypotheses about a client's personality, self-concept and growth through the therapeutic process. This approach was to inform the development of widely used rating scales for the measurement of process and change during psychotherapy.
When Rogers began to publish and lecture on his person-centred approach, he was surprised at the level of controversy his ideas generated. Much of the early criticism was directed against his efforts to redefine the role of the ‘patient’, the perceived threat to the integrity of the therapy session by the use of recording devices, his relative neglect of the unconscious, and his efforts to demystify the psychotherapeutic process. Enduring criticisms concern the somewhat naive phenomenology underlying his theory of the person (Smith, 1950).
Rogers's numerous contributions can be summarized as follows. (1) He developed a mode of psychotherapy which is built around a growth model, rather than a medical one. This model is based on the hypothesis that the individual has within himself or herself the capacity for self-understanding and self-direction; it demonstrates that these capacities are released in a relationship with certain definable qualities; and it incorporates the view that the human organism is basically constructive and trustworthy. (2) He formulated a theory of the necessary and sufficient conditions which initiate a definable process in a therapeutic relationship and the changes in personality and behaviour which occur as a result of this process. (3) He developed an approach to therapy which is characterized by the terms ‘non-directive’, ‘client-centred’ and ‘person-centred’. (4) He lifted the veil of mystery from psychotherapy, and opened it to scrutiny and study, by recording therapeutic interviews. (5) He completed a number of important studies on the process and outcome of therapy, and the connection between the qualities in the relationship and the changes which occur. (6) He encouraged the application of the dynamic principles learned in therapy to a wide variety of fields: teaching and learning; marriage relationships; family life; intensive groups; administration and management; resolution of conflict; community development.
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