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 Carl Rogers discovers conditions that work for counselling


Carl Rogers had a different approach to how we could gain Self Knowledge to both Freud and Jung and others who had gone before. He made the discovery that the "client" themself was the person who knew the answers to their own problems.

When he began working, he believed, as was the norm at the time, that he as the therapist, would be the person who was able to work out the problems of his clients for them. He would be in charge. He was working with one particular woman and found that he just was incapable of helping her. He decided that the best thing to do was just be honest and tell her.

To his surprise this resulted in the woman bursting into tears and pouring out all her troubles to him. He realized then that if he was able to provide certain conditions to the client in a non judgmental way, creating a relationship that was based on warmth, (positive regard), genuineness and empathy that those conditions by themselves were sufficient to allow the client to get in touch with their own inner resources. He called these 'core conditions'.

Carl Rogers marked a departure from the traditional patient/doctor relationship in therapy where the Doctor knew best and the patient was under his command. He called the people he worked with clients rather than patients. He did not assume to have an answer to the client's query. He expected that to come from the client.

His counselling was originally called Client Centered Counselling and later became known more as Person Centered counselling. His work extended to many areas of life such as education and has been taken up very widely in many areas offering support. However, if you are looking for a Rogerian Counsellor, then it would be wise to make absolutely sure that the person is a Rogerian Counsellor as virtually every form of counselling has to some extent jumped on this bandwagon and some of them are very far from the stance made by Rogers. I have even heard that some psychiatrist was offering his patients "person centered" Electric Shock Therapy!!

Carl Rogers Belief in our Self Actualising Tendency -

 To Carl Rogers it was very important to have the relationship between client and counsellor as equal as possible. He believed that it was in our nature, and indeed all of life's nature to grow to fulfill it's potential. He saw life natural course as being self-actualizing. By this he meant that it was within the nature of each and every organism to be motivated to be the best it could be.

He did not believe in Original Sin, believing instead that we were born with this self actualizing tendency which in our childhood got blocked from us as we developed a "false self" in order to survive.

Here as with Freud and Jung, Carl Rogers believed we do not grow up to be who we are. He believed we needed unconditional positive regard and acceptance in order to develop into our "true Selves". If that happened then all would be well and we would grow up into the person we were born to be.

It doesn't need much imagination to see that this would be virtually impossible in the world as it is now. Even the very best parents would have days when they were irritable, never mind dealing with the rules of school and whatever the social expectations are at the time.

Our need for love and acceptance is however strong. When we realize that we are not accepted as who we are, we may be puzzled and hurt at first but then we try to change. We want to fit in and be accepted.

As a child we absolutely need to fit in and be accepted for survival. We will do this even if it requires us shutting off from what is genuine in us - we will, if necessary repress our inner feeling self and inner resources.

However our inner self does not disappear. It is still there even though we may repress it so much that we forget it and believe that we really are the person we are acting as. The result is that we develop areas of incongruity. Without knowing it we are not being honest. This can cause us all kinds of problems from anxiety or depression to nightmares, to finding ourselves being hurtful to people we wish to love. Rogerian counselling works to reconnect people with their inner feeling self and their inner resources. It works to help people to again become genuine. This results in a greatly increased feeling of aliveness, creativity, intuition and so on.

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