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Thread: Carl Rogers and Client-Centered Therapy

  1. Carl Rogers and Client-Centered Therapy

    Carl Rogers
    "Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person's ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets - neither Freud nor research - neither the revelations of God nor man - can take precedence over my own direct experience.... My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction." -- Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person, pages 23-24

    Actualizing Tendency
    Rogers (1959) maintains that the human "organism" has an underlying "actualizing tendency", which aims to develop all capacities in ways that maintain or enhance the organism and move it toward autonomy. This tendency is directional, constructive and present in all living things. The actualizing tendency can be suppressed but can never be destroyed without the destruction of the organism (Rogers, 1977). The concept of the actualizing tendency is the only motive force in the theory. It encompasses all motivations; tension, need, or drive reductions; and creative as well as pleasure-seeking tendencies (Rogers, 1959). Only the organism as a whole has this tendency, parts of it (such as the self) do not. Maddi (1996) describes it as a "biological pressure to fulfill the genetic blueprint" (p106.) Each person thus has a fundamental mandate to fulfill their potential.

    Self-Actualizing Tendency
    A distinctly psychological form of the actualizing tendency related to this "self" is the "self-actualizing tendency". It involves the actualization of that portion of experience symbolized in the self (Rogers, 1959). It can be seen as a push to experience oneself in a way that is consistent with one's conscious view of what one is (Maddi, 1996). Connected to the development of the self-concept and self-actualization are secondary needs (assumed to likely be learned in childhood): the "need for positive regard from others" and "the need for positive self-regard", an internalized version of the previous. These lead to the favoring of behavior that is consistent with the person's self-concept (Maddi, 1996).

    Organismic Valuing and Conditions of Worth
    When significant others in the person's world (usually parents) provide positive regard that is conditional, rather than unconditional, the person introjects the desired values, making them his/her own, and acquires "conditions of worth" (Rogers, 1959). The self-concept then becomes based on these standards of value rather than on organismic evaluation. These conditions of worth disturb the "organismic valuing process", which is a fluid, ongoing process whereby experiences are accurately symbolized and valued according to optimal enhancement of the organism and self (Rogers, 1959). The need for positive self-regard leads to a selective perception of experience in terms of the conditions of worth that now exist. Those experiences in accordance with these conditions are perceived and symbolized accurately in awareness, while those that are not are distorted or denied into awareness. This leads to an "incongruence" between the self as perceived and the actual experience of the organism, resulting in possible confusion, tension, and maladaptive behavior (Rogers, 1959). Such estrangement is the common human condition. Experiences can be perceived as threatening without conscious awareness via "subception", a form of discrimination without awareness that can result in anxiety.

    Fully Functioning Person and the Self
    Theoretically, an individual may develop optimally and avoid the previously described outcomes if they experience only "unconditional positive regard" and no conditions of worth develop. The needs for positive regard from others and positive self-regard would match organismic evaluation and there would be congruence between self and experience, with full psychological adjustment as a result (Rogers, 1959). This ideal human condition is embodied in the "fully functioning person" who is open to experience able to live existentially, is trusting in his/her own organism, expresses feelings freely, acts independently, is creative and lives a richer life; "the good life" (Rogers, 1961). It should be noted that; "The good life is a process not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination (Rogers, 1961, p.186)". For the vast majority of persons who do not have an optimal childhood there is hope for change and development toward psychological maturity via therapy, in which the aim is to dissolve the conditions of worth, achieve a self congruent with experience and restore the organismic valuing process (Rogers, 1959).

    Rogerian Therapy
    Rogers (1977) describes therapy as a process of freeing a person and removing obstacles so that normal growth and development can proceed and the client can become independent and self-directed. During the course of therapy the client moves from rigidity of self-perception to fluidity.

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  3. Interpreting

    I found this while searching the site and found it applied well to so-called self-concept issues. I'm going to state some of my extrapolations and questions from each passage, and I'd like some feedback as to whether or not I'm taking it in the right direction.

    Carl Rogers:
    -Post-modern position on the world
    -Truth is established by the individual
    -Not all experiences can be re-created?
    -If it's not experienced, does it exist?

    Actualizing Tendency:
    -Biological drive

    Self-Actualizing Tendency:
    -The individual working toward the best possible percieved experience
    -Choosing the actions that make us feel good (and feel good about ourselves)

    Organismic Valuing and Conditions of Worth:
    -Individual trying to please others based on the criteria set by others
    -Intrensic value is superceded
    -Self-worth is determined by the environment (how the individual is treated)
    -Posative/self-affirming actions are percieved accurately
    -Individual percieves disworth while others may not (distorted)
    -Only the individual senses diminishing slef-worth (distorted)
    -Leads to feelings of guilt

    Fully Functioning Person and the Self:
    -Self-worth preserved regardless of circumstances
    -Individuals must have intrensic self worth despite behavior modifications
    -You don't need to live as a victim, circumstance should not determine your self worth

  4. Carl Rogers

    More or less. There are a few bits missing or slightly modified but I think you have the gist of it anyway.

  5. ...

    Can you elaborate?

  6. Carl Rogers

    Rogers' notion of the Organismic Valuing System refers to being able to judge yourself and your movement toward your goals from within, instead of depending on other people for feedback as to who you are and how well you are doing.

    The ability to do this is one of the characteristics of the Fully Functioning Person. Another is the development of Unconditional Positive Self-Regard (Rogers uses awkward terminology), which is basically the ability to accept yourself for who you are, warts and all, and love that person.

    The opposite of Unconditional Positive Regard (or Self-Regard) is a result of Conditions of Worth, where other people basically demand that you be a certain type of person, behave in certain ways, and work toward and achieve certain goals, all defined by the other person(s). If you conform to those expectations, they reward you with love, praise, affection, and acceptance; if you do not, they punish you by withholding love, praise, affection, and acceptance. Thus, Conditions of Worth function to make you act as if you were someone else, based on the message that if you are yourself you are not worthy of love or acceptance.

    So that's the long answer -- your shorter answer was probably a lot more clear! :o)

  7. ...

    It seems to me that if people are operating under these conditional values of worth it will be difficult for them to be able to realize it, they will want to believe that they're actions are for themselves. Won't showing them otherwise cause depression in it's self?

  8. Carl Rogers

    No. Not in my experience.

    Realizing that you are trying to please someone who can only be pleased if you be the person he or she wants you to be is depressing.

    Realizing that you don't have to keep trying to live up to someone else's expectations of who you should be, and that you are allowed to be just who you are instead, is not depressing -- it is freeing.

  9. ?

    What sort of link do you form between Carl Roger's concept and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

  10. Carl Rogers

    I don't know that there is a direct link, although for the most part they are not incompatible.

    The major difference is that Rogers notion of the fully functioning person is something that is within the grasp of pretty much everyone. In Maslow's theory, only a very few people, a very small percentage of the human race, can ever hope to achieve the highest level.

  11. A Tool To Progress

    It seems to me that Carl Rogers method of therapy is a tool that can be used to progress individuals through the third and fourth levels of the hierarchy (belongingness & love needs and esteem needs). Using the traditional hierarchy, past this is only self-actualization. Using his revised hierarchy, must next progress through "need to know and understand" and "aesthetic needs" next.

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