Rogers Carl

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Rogers Carl

(1902-87) PHENOMENOLOGICAL psychologist within the HUMANISTIC MOVEMENT, best known for the development of client-centred or PERSON-CENTRED COUNSELLING (Client-Centred Therapy, 1951). His influence has been so extensive in the area of personal counselling that the methodology is often termed ‘Rogerian’.

Central to Rogers’ theory of personality and to the humanistic movement generally is the emphasis on a tendency towards ‘personal growth’. He regards this as an ‘innate organismic tendency’, but problems in this developmental process may occur due to environmental constraints. Particularly the person has a need for ‘unconditional positive regard’ from others if he or she is to develop positive self-regard. Parents particularly have a responsibility to provide unconditional positive regard and not to impose unrealistic ‘conditions of worth’. If the person has undergone damaging experiences and lost, or not developed, a sense of self-worth then counselling/ therapymay be necessary to generate it.

Phenomenological psychology sees the person as unique, with a unique personal perception of the world. Client-centred therapy therefore aims to facilitate the client in understanding their situation by allowing him/her to talk, and by reflecting back the content of this without further analysis or direction. This is done in a setting of empathy genuine warmth and unconditional positive regard, the intention being to enhance positive self-regard and reduce the limiting conditions of worth. This technique has been developed in work with neurotics and it is within this group, particularly those who are verbal and highly motivated to get well, that it is most successful.

Rogers did not limit himself to individual psychotherapeutic counselling, but, as a humanistic psychologist, was concerned to assist everyone towards 'self-actualization’. He was active in developing group techniques (Encounter Groups, 1970) and also in applying his ideas within education (Freedom to Learn, 1969).

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000