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The Rogerian and Person-Centred Theory Key Concepts


Karl Rogers contributed greatly in the development of counselling strategies in the field of psychology, as he formulated a humanistic theory based on the assumptions of the Abraham Maslow, which is of great help to caregivers. In his analysis, he observed that an individual needs a special environment if he or she is to realise the much-needed growth. In this case, people should be genuine when explaining or stating their problems to the therapists whereby the virtues of openness and self-disclosure must be embraced. Additionally, an individual must always learn to accept the situation as it exists unconditionally as this would mean positive regard.

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The counsellor should always ensure he or she listens to the problems as presented with empathy implying the first step towards resolving an issue facing the client is to understand the problem (Rogers and Tausch 40). Rogers suggested that an individual could not develop without observing the principles of openness and acceptance, as they facilitate understanding of the problem. He compared human development and problem resolution to the growth of the tree in the sense that even plants are always in need of sunlight and water.

The understanding of Rogers was that each person has the potential to develop to an extent of accomplishing individual goals and realizing the desires and wishes in daily life. If a clear path is followed, therefore, chances are high that an individual will reach self-actualization stage whereby personal needs are met with ease. In fact, this was the major assumption of his analysis in the field of psychology. Unfortunately, he gave several conditions that must be met and a clear procedure that has to be followed for self-actualization to take place. This paper aims at exploring the three key concepts of Roger’s theory of person-centred, including actualization tendency, conditions of worth, and the seven stages of the process.

The Actualizing Tendency

Concerning self-actualization, Rogers concluded that any living organism has the basic tendency and striving, which is to actualise, maintain, and enhance the experiencing (Rogers 487). In this regard, he was against the deterministic approach employed by both the psychoanalysts and behaviourist psychologists noting that people behave the way they do mainly because of the influences of the surrounding environment. In this case, rarely does another person have a clue on other people’s behaviours. Based on this, the individual is best suited to provide a solution to the problem facing him or her.

For instance, an individual from the single-parent family behaves in a different way from another one raised by both parents. Similarly, children brought up in poor neighbourhoods are likely to exhibit certain behaviours even in mature commitments irrespective of whether the living conditions change. According to Rogers, the counsellor would be engaging in zero-sum game without allowing the client an opportunity to express him or herself during the therapy process. His view was that a human being is simply motivated by one factor, which is to self-actualise meaning to fulfil the desires and realise the highest level of needs, what he referred to as “human beingness.”

He likened human growth to the development of a garden flower, which is expected to grow to its full potential in case the conditions are favourable. If the surrounding is constraining, the plant might not attain its potential the same way an individual will not thrive to achieve the likely potential in case the environment is restrictive. However, he was quick to note that the case of a human being is different and cannot be compared directly to that of the flower since people vary in terms of personalities meaning they are likely to develop differently.

The scholar was optimistic of the human behaviour because he suggested that people are usually good intentional in the sense that they aim at doing the right thing in society through creativity. However, some conditions force them to be destructive, especially when their self-concepts or the external limitations prevail over the assessment process. Therefore, self-actualization is only achieved when an individual strives to reach the congruence stage whereby he or she adopts the social norms and principles as stipulated in the society. His analysis suggests self-actualization could only be attained when the ideal self is congruent with the real behaviour or the self-image.

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In other words, the aspirations of the individual regarding what he or she would want to be should be consistent with his or her personality. He referred an individual who reaches the self-actualization stage is the fully functioning person and this could simply be determined by the experiences that an individual went through in the childhood stage. An individual experiencing self-actualization in life is always in touch with the society meaning he or she is always experiencing positive feelings, growing continually, and always willing to change as per the new rules and regulations. Unfortunately, not all people are able to reach the self-actualization stage because of several reasons, with childhood experiences being the major factors. The fully functioning person is an ideal type and many individuals are unable to achieve the status, but he encouraged people to view this as a journey or the means to an end instead of considering as the completion of life since an individual should be prepared for change.

Rogers went a notch higher to name the features of an actualizing individuals, one being openness to positive and negative experiences implying that an individual should not be in denial of negative emotions, but instead he or she should resort to ego defence mechanisms. The second characteristic is existential living whereby an individual has to establish a relationship with various experiences as they emerge in life meaning evasion of anticipations and prejudices is encouraged. Therefore, an individual has to live a life that appreciates the present instead of reflecting on the past failures or focusing too much on the future.

In others, an individual should focus on what is going on currently in his or her life and try as much as possible to find solutions. The third feature entails trusting the feelings, instincts, and the gut-reactions. In this case, each person should understand that his or her decisions are the most important in life and the process of making them should be viable. The fourth characteristic of self-actualization as suggested by Rogers is creativity in terms of reasoning in the sense that an individual is expected to take risks instead of playing safe always. In fact, this is known to play a critical role in initiating change and adjusting accordingly to suit the new expectations.

The last feature involves living a fulfilled life meaning a self-actualizing person is happy and satisfied with the way life is taking him or her. The theorist claimed further that living a satisfied life gives an individual the chance to explore new opportunities and adopt new changes. An analysis of Roger’s ideas on self-actualization reveals that fully functioning people are well adjusted to the societal rules and regulations, well balanced in the sense that they understand their responsibilities and roles in various places, and are always interesting in the way they handle their issues. In other words, such individuals are high achievers, even though critics are quick to point out that fully functioning people are products of the western culture that insists on individualism given the fact that other cultures, such as those of Africa and Asia, are insistent on group achievements.

Conditions of Worth

Rogers underscored the fact that the child is always in need of two things, one of them being the positive regard while the other is nurturing of the self-worth. The way individuals reflect on their behaviour and beliefs of self-worth is decisive in the emotional maintaining a stable emotional state, as well as the attainment of goals and ambitions in life. Additionally, the realization of self-actualization depends on personal perception. Rogers noted that an individual with high self-worth is likely to accept challenges, accept failure, open to people, and appreciates unhappiness as part of life.

Additionally, such individuals are believed to be people of high confidence and their feelings are always positive. On the other hand, individuals with low self-worth are likely to keep off from all forms of challenges, preventive of painful life, and are always defensive whenever they interact with other people meaning they fear taking risks. Any feeling of self-worth develops at childhood and the family, as well as other agents of socialization, plays a critical role in shaping it. For instance, the father and the mother are important at the family level since the child tends to believe in what they say. In this case, big difference exists between children brought up by both parents and those raised up in children homes. It therefore follows that parents play special roles in the upbringing of children in the sense that they are role models (Poyrazli 111).

Lack of the father in the family will affect the socialization of the child, as the discipline of the child would be affected. The family should always take its rightful position to avoid being overtaken by other agents, such as the media and the peer, which are known to affect the normal upbringing of children. Studies indicate that the media is taking over as the primary agent of socialization because of the tasks and responsibilities of parents in the modern society. Many parents take their children to the care organizations during the day, as they concentrate on career development. This has affected the way children are socialised, but the case is different in the developing countries where the parents have adequate time to take care of the psychological needs of their children. As children grow older, they interact with other significant people in their lives, especially their peers in school and this is known to have a great effect on their self-worth. The media influences the self-confidence of children because it socialises girls to adopt certain behaviours associated with models while boys are instructed to live certain lives that end up affecting their self-worth.

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Rogers observed that individuals always desire to be regarded positively in society whereby their contributions are cherished, appreciated, and treated with warmth or love. Whenever individuals are evaluated fairly in social interactions, they will feel positively regarded. However, not all form of positive regards is unconditional since others are conditional and Rogers made attempt to differentiate this. Unconditional positive reward takes place when either the mother or the father, as well as the significant others, including the humanist analyst, values and adores the person for illustrating a strong disposition and behaviour.

Once awarded, this form of reward cannot be withdrawn even if an individual does something negative afterwards. This kind of regard is not helpful in the sense that it permits an individual to try something new in the environment meaning it paves way for the commission of mistakes (Cooper, Watson and Dagmar 24). Individuals who reach the self-actualization stage might have received the unconditional positive reward at one stage in their lives, particularly from their parents. The parents and the significant others, including the counsellors, should understand that an individual has special features that might be explored effectively to bring changes in the society. In this case, children should not be controlled always by threatening them with sanctions, as this would discourage creativity and innovation.

The main role of the parent should be to assess the capability of his or her child and support all the positives while giving the child room to learn from friends. Conditional positive reward is dependent on certain achievements meaning approval of behaviour and praise is only given when the child works hard to please the parent and the significant others, such as the therapist. In this case, the child is specifically expected to behave in a way that is consistent with the beliefs of the parents. Unlike the unconditional reward, the child is not loved because of his or her character in the conditional reward, but instead evaluation is conducted based on the behaviour. In case the behaviour is pleasant to the parents, the child will definitely receive praise and honour, but the case is different in case deviation is initiated. In the modern society, all individuals who are praised by individuals might have received conditional positive reward since they simply strive to follow the laws and regulations as set out in the society (Cepeda and Davenport 10).

Unfortunately, such individuals rarely achieve self-actualization since they fear going against the established behaviour. In other words, they cannot engage in creativity or innovation, as they think they might attract negative valuation.

Seven Stages of Process

Apart from discussing various concepts related to his theory of person-centred, Rogers gave a process through which therapy should be conducted. The process is important in the understanding of how counselling should take place. The first stage explains the emotional condition of the client since he or she will always be defensive in the sense that nothing will be said to help in the identification of the problem. Additionally, individuals are usually reluctant to accept the situation as it exists in the first stage meaning acceptance of the reality is the major problem that the counselor has to deal with in the first stage of the conversation.

At this stage, the therapist is requested to employ all tactics that will make the client speak out his or her problems since the process cannot go on without any prior information on the issue at hand. Whenever a problem happens, people are often in a state of denial and they try to blame other people for what might have happened to them. In the second stage, the case is slightly different because the client tends to be less rigid as compared to the first stage since he or she might be willing to talk. However, the nature of information given is scanty in the sense that only external events will be discussed about and the ones that are of importance in resolving the issue would be avoided (Bower 1390). In the third stage, the client will see the need of reporting the issues facing him or her. Unfortunately, he or she will pretend to be an object to an extent of avoiding talking about present events facing him or her in life.

The third stage is the most important since the counsellor will start noting down the problems as presented. In fact, Rogers was of the view that therapy should start at this point since the counsellor will start asking pertinent questions that will facilitate the revelation of additional information. Once the client learns that what might have happened to him or her is normal, he or she will start talking about deep feelings in the fourth stage. In this stage, the counsellor is encouraged to develop a strong relationship with the client that will create a favourable environment for the flow of information.

The counsellor is then expected to collect as much information as possible. In the fifth stage, the discussion will be in a critical stage whereby the client expresses present emotions and starts to rely more on personal decision-making capabilities. In fact, quite a number of them will accept the situation and try as much as possible to resolve it. In the sixth stage, the client shows a desire to grow rapidly towards congruence meaning he or she will start developing unconditional positive regard towards other people, including the therapist. If the stage is navigated well, the formal therapy ends and the client start focusing on the realization of high needs. In the last stage, the client is expected to be fully functioning meaning he or she will have attained the self-actualization stage. In many cases, the individual will be responsive to the needs of others to an extent of showing unconditional positive reward towards them.

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Rogers concluded his analysis by noting that good life is never fixed since individuals have the chance of changing. Again, he underscored the fact that self-actualization is not in any way related to virtue, contentment, and happiness, but instead it entails an extensive process that is acquired through several processes in life. In fact, self-actualization cannot be attained without imparting the sense of self-worth to children at tender ages. An individual with a higher sense of worth is always motivated to accomplish the most complex tasks and responsibilities leading to self-actualization. Parents who train their children to accept conditional positive regard are not good caregivers since such individuals will never have a strong sense of worth needed in reaching the self-actualization stage. His final conclusion was that a clear process should be followed when administering therapy to an individual wishing to attaining self-actualization.

Works Cited

Bower, Byford. “Randomized controlled trial of non-directive counselling, cognitive-behaviour therapy, and usual general practitioner care for patients with depression. II: Cost effectiveness.” British Medical Journal 321.2 (2000): 1389-1392. Print.

Cepeda, Lisa, and Donna Davenport. “Person-Centred Therapy and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: An Integration of Present and Future Awareness”. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 43.1 (2003): 1–12. Print.

Cooper, Mick, Jeanne Watson, and Hölldampf Dagmar. Person-centred and Experiential Therapies Work: A Review of the Research on Counselling, Psychotherapy and Related Practices. New York: PCCS Books, 2010. Print.

Poyrazli, Simon. “Validity of Rogerian Therapy in Turkish Culture: A Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Journal of Humanistic Counselling, Education & Development 42.1 (2003): 107-115. Print.

Rogers, Carl, and Lyon Tausch. On Becoming an Effective Teacher — Person-centred teaching, Psychology, Philosophy, and Dialogues with Carl R. Rogers and Harold Lyon. London: Routledge, 2013. Print.

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