GENERAL IDEAS & THEMES
Carl Rogers ® Most famous for: Client - Centered Therapy
(a.k.a., Person Centered Therapy)
Psychotherapy that stresses the therapist’s [T] offering the client [C]…
UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD --
an accepting, empathetic and honest reflection of the client’s feelings and experience.
without judging, advising, admonishing, ordering, directing, etc.
as a way of helping the client get in touch with his/her actual feelings & experience
so that he/she can become more real, less distorted to self and others, and ultimately becoming himself/herself (i.e., the person he/she is truly capable of becoming)
hence an emphasis on becoming, rather than “curing,” “treating,” etc.
a PROCESS orientation (rather than stressing end-states)
values change over fixity.
therapy resides more in the relationship between T & C ¾ rather than in technique (being a particular way ¾ rather than doing a particular thing).
hence need for T’s ongoing becoming.
Stresses the value of hearing another person deeply,¾
and letting him/her know it.
Chapter 1: “This is Me”
In part, a brief autobiography, but also some basic points of theory.
Why the emphasis on the biographical details?
As a holistic endeavor, humanistic psychology sees the person of the researcher or therapist as integral to the theories he/she holds.
¾ Rogers is attempting to own his perspective on therapy
¾ as a personal affair intimately connected to the path of his life
(which I tried also to do in my “9 rules of thumb” essay:
Rogers lists a number of SIGNIFICANT LEARNINGS
#1: “In my relationships with persons I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not.” (p.16)
¾ easy to be fake, phony (with others, also with ourselves)
® can get us through easily
¾ mostly about being defensive
® trying to protect ourselves
- from others
- from ourselves - our own harsh judgments.
¾ does tend to work in the short run but NOT the long run.
#2. “I find I am more effective when I can listen acceptantly to myself, and can be myself.” (p.17)
® being honest with oneself
® being who one actually is.
But what about CHANGING, GROWING, ASPIRATIONS, etc.?
Rogers ® a PARADOX here
“. . . when I accept myself as I am, then I change . . . We cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are”
That’s when “relationships become real” ¾ “real relationships tend to change rather thatn to remain static.” (p.18)
#3. “I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand another person.” (p.18)
I can permit myself ® this is difficult
® we don’t usually understand one another
® usually we judge one another.
Genuine understanding is RARE
¾ IT’S RISKY - because WE OURSELVES might be changed.
In genuine understanding ¾ both parties are open to change (BOTH T & C).
#4. “I have found it enriching to open channels whereby other can communictate their feelings, their private perceptual worlds, to me.” (p. 19)
“Opening channels” ¾ to a kind of dangerous, private communication
That makes an atmosphere of safety (not judgement) very important
Sensitivity of understanding
An accepting climate (esp. of what’s dark, what’s negative, what’s easy to judge.)
#5. “I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person.” (p.20)
“When I can” ® difficulty - challenge
¾ we don’t always (often) do this.
Acceptance ® critical to helping someone become who he/she is.
Highly rewarding ¾ a kind of pleasure, for its own sake, in connecting deeply with another. -- an intrinsic reward
#6 “The more I am open to the realities in me and in the other person, the less do I find myself wishing to rush in and ‘fix things’” (p.21)
Read pp. 21-22
The desire to “fix things”
¾ implies a judgement of other as broken.
¾ can easily be mostly for the fixer’s benefit
® in control
® easy sense of purpose
® secure sense of “doing something”
8 more personal learnings
#1. “I can trust my experience… my total organismic sensing of a situation is more trustworthy than my intellect” (p.22)
¾ an emphasis on intuition, gut-sense
¾ “total, organismic” ® with one’s whole person - not just one’s mind, nor just one‘s feelings.
#2. “Evaluation by others is not a guide for me.” (p.23)
¾ an emphasis on individual choice & values
We are each the ultimate judge of what’s best, what’s right for ourselves
Similarly the client is the ultimate judge of what’s best for him/her; T’s job is to allow that process to happen.
#3. “Experience is, for me, the highest authority.” (p.23)
¾ a combination of #1 and #2
¾ still, experience is FALLIBLE
- always open to correction
- through NEW EXPERIENCE
We can fool ourselves in our experience, hence a value to questioning it ongoingly.
#4. “I enjoy the discovering of order in experience.” (p. 24)
¾ intrinsically enjoyable to do psychology, to find order in our subjective experience
¾ this is the primary motive (not utility).
Even to the level of ECSTASY ¾ falling in love with life and questioning life.
#5. “The facts are friendly.” (p. 25)
Seeking the truth ® always ultimately good
¾ even if we have to re-adjust our thinking
¾ or question our investment in the current vision.
Changing our minds & entering into process may be hard
-- but they’re always ultimately worthwhile.
#6. “What is most personal is most general.” (p. 26)
“I have almost invariably found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal, and hence most incomprehensible by others has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people.”
¾ an emphasis on daring to express our experience
¾ it’s probably not as alien & singular as we sometimes think
#7. “It has been my experience that persons basically have a positive direction.” (p.26)
¾ the good in people runs deeper than evil, pathological, destructive.
¾ a controversial point - even among humanistic psychologists.
At base, are people “good” - seeking positive change “forward”
“bad” - bestial, destructive (like Freud had it) ® BOTH?
Rogers ® “I do not have a Pollyanna view of human nature” (p.27)
Neurosis, destruction are huge…
But they don’t ultimately undercut people’s positive tendencies
Destruction, pathology etc. are the result of toxic social influences that never reach as far as people‘s fundamentally positive core.
#8. Life, at it best, is a flowing, changing process in which nothing is fixed.” (p.27)
Life is . . . “always in the process of becoming.”
No ultimately fixed points
No closed system of beliefs, principles, philosophy that completely captures life.
Hence, therapy is not about promoting any particular preordained order.
As Rogers says,
“. . . I can only try to live by my interpretation of my experience, and try to give others permission and freedom to develop their own inward freedom” (p.27)
Chapter 2: Some Hypotheses Regarding the Facilitation of Personal Growth
Therapy ® oriented toward personal growth rather than medical model concepts such as, “pathology,” “curing,” or “treating” ¾
So, Rogers speaks of “FACILITATION.”
“. . . if I can provide a certain type of relationship, ther other person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationship for growth, and change and personal development will occur.” (p.33)
An emphasis on THE RELATIONSHIP
Rather than on . . . intellectual theorizing, techniques and procedures, because these ultimately yield only temporary or superficial change.
(Rogers is aiming at change in a person’s entire being)
Characteristics of a genuinely therapeutic relationship (IDEALS)
A. Acceptance ¾ non-judgemental valuing of the other as a distinct & worthwhile person -- “a willingness for him to possess his own feelings in his own way” (p.34)
B Empathy ¾ understanding the feelings, thoughts and world of the other person. To try to see the world through their eyes (rather than just rushing to the safety of one’s own judgments)
-- understanding someone else’s world ¾ makes it easier to accept it without judgment (and vice versa).
C. Honesty ¾ “transparency”
“…in which my real feelings are evident
Of course, these 3 characteristics don’t guarantee immediate change.
The client may be too frightened, freaked, stuck, even to perceive what’s being offered.
But . . . According to Rogers ® in the long haul, change will INVARIABLY occur.
The main motivation for change ®
People’s innate tendencies toward maturity moving forward in life, growing,
Which are always waiting for the right conditions
(connection to view of people as ultimately good)
Outcomes of Client-Centered Therapy (summary on p. 36)
¾ more integrated & effective
¾ better self-perception
- values self more highly
- more confident
- more open to experience
- better understanding of self
- more accepting of others
¾ behaviorally more mature
- less easily frustrated
- less defensive
- more adaptive
Another Summary on pp. 37 - 38
Chapter 3 ® The Characteristics of the Helping Relationship
2 parts to this chapter:
A. A discussion of results of formal research on the characteristics of therapy.
Summary on p.44
B. Rogers’ subjective experience -- on HOW TO create a helping relationship
-- 10 main points.
1. “Can I be in some way which will be perceived by the other person as trustworthy, as dependable or consistent in some deep sense?” (p. 50)
“…being trustworthy does not demand that I be rigidily consistent but that I be dependable real.”
2. “Can I be expressive enough as a person that what I am will be communicated
unambiguously?” (p. 51)
-- to do this requires one‘s forming an accepting, helping relationship to oneself -- “… the most difficult task I know.”
3. “Can I let myself experience positive attitudes toward this other person?”
-- not easy, since having positive feelings implies vulnerability
4. “Can I be strong enough as a person to be separate from the other?”
-- the balance is between being empathetic, but still being oneself.
5. “Am I secure enough within myself to permit him his separateness?”
-- “Can I permit him to be what he is -- honest or deceitful, infantile or adult, despairing or over-confident. Can I give him the freedom to be?”
6. “Can I let myself enter fully into the world of his feeling and personal meaning and see these as he does?”
-- “Can I step into his private world so completely that I lose all desire to evaluate or judge it?”
7. “[Can I accept] each facet of this other person which he presents to me?”
-- “Can I receive him as he is? Can I communicate this attitude?”
8. “Can I act with sufficient sensitivity in the relationship that my behavior will not be perceived as a threat?”
9. “Can I free him from the threat of external evaluation?
-- “Curiously enough a positive evaluation is as threatening in the long run as a negative one.”
10. “Can I meet this other individual as a person who is in the process
of becoming, or will I be bound by his past and by my past?”
Chapter 5. Some directions evident in therapy
Contains transcripts from session - all with the same client.
Rogerian Therapy: 2 important characteristics: Reflective & Non-directive
1. Reflective -- an emphasis on reflecting back to the client his or her subjective experience.
-- T reflects back to C only part of what C says -- the Y important stuff only
-- what C is thinking, feeling, perceiving etc., (esp. in the here & now)
-- not the external, factual details
-- T especially reflects C’s suffering & pain (since therapy is mostly about that).
2. Non-directive: For the most part, T resists C’s demand for answers, advice, etc.
-- because only when C discovers his or her own, unique answers does therapy become genuinely transformative.
-- when T & C get to what’s important ¾ the uncanny moment
-- T always checks with C to see if the interpretation is correct
Surprisingly, C leads the therapy, not T.
SILENCE is also important to Rogerian therapy
-- esp. when C reaches the intense moment of transformation, it’s important for T to allow it to happen, rather than to distract from it.
-- so, T must cultivate the ability to be in silence presence
with the other -- sometimes for long stretches.
Chapter 7. A Process Conception of Psychotherapy
Rogers conceives of therapeutic change ¾ in terms of a CONTINUUM, described in terms of SEVEN STAGES. (although no one’s entirely at one stage or another.)
Generally this continuum ranges from/to
Fixity ® “changingness”
Rigid structure ® flow
Stasis ® process
Stage 1: greatest fixity, greatest rigidity (p.132) Characteristics:
¾ no problems or personal challenges recognized or preceived (problems seen as external).
¾ no desire to change “I think I’m practically healthy”
¾ hence, not likely to come voluntarily to therapy.
¾ feelings & personal meanings are neither recognized, nor owned.
¾ close relationships ® perceived as dangerous.
¾ interprets experience mostly in terms of the past ¾ rather than the unique present.
¾ constriction of the richness of experience.
Stage 6: Crucial for Rogers, esp. because here changes tend to become permanent. (p.145) Characteristics:
-- full, immediate flow of feelings & experience
¾ esp. those that have been “stuck,” denied.
-- acceptance of that (rather than fighting against it).
-- to be one’s feelings, rather than to have them.
-- a quality of living subjectively in the experience, not feeling about it (which implies distance from it).
-- “Self as an object of reflection tends to disappear”
“The self, at this moment, is this feeling.”
-- immersion in the moment of experience - not just reflective perception.
“The self is, subjectively, in the existential moment. It is not something one perceives.”
-- “experiencing, at this stage, takes on a real process quality.”
-- “. . . also with a physiological loosening” - greater physical expressiveness, emotionality, etc.
(p.148-149) “. . .The client feels cut loose from his previously stabilized framework . . . He feels cut loose from his previous world.”
¾ a sensation which is both wondrous and frightening.
“. . . there are no longer “problems,” external or internal. The client is living subjectively, a phase of his problem. It is not an object.”
Stage 7 (p.151)
“. . . a growing and continuing sense of acceptant ownership of changing feelings, a basic trust in his own process.”
“. . . the situation is experienced and interpreted in its newness, not its past.”
“The self is much less frequently a perceived object, and much more frequently something felt in process”
“personal constructs are tentatively reformulated, to be validated
against further experience, but even then, to be held loosely.”
“. . . effective choice of new ways of being.”
SUMMARY, p. 154
Some additional notes on this continuum:
* relatively few clients make it to stage 7.
*value of FLUIDITY, change ¾ not everyone sees life this way.
*change happens slowly ¾ (contrary to how therapy’s being shaped economically.)
All of this requires acquiring a taste for becoming & growing as a person.
-- a taste for process, for change, for contact with the BEYOND, for living life as an ADVENTURE at the level of existence.
-- not to be too freaked out by change & transience, but to find the courage to learn to revel in it.
-- for most people, it’s taste acquired little by little.
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