Carl Rogers and His Influence on Modern Psychology
Carl Rogers is considered the founder of client-centered therapy, which asserts that childhood experiences affect an individual’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior (Rathus, 2004). The therapist must see the world from that of the client to be effective in treatment. Rogers has influenced many psychological theories and therapies present today, especially positive psychology. Despite this fact, many who practice positive psychology do not, or are not willing to, accept the influence of past theories.
In 1959, Rogers asserted that the therapeutic relationship is used differently with different ...view middle of the document...
Unconditional positive regard involves having respect for clients as human beings with special goals and values. Empathetic understanding is the recognition of the client’s feelings and experiences by the therapist. To achieve this, the therapist must “view the world through the client’s frame of reference by setting aside their own values and listening closely” (p. 560). Genuineness includes a therapist being open and honest when responding to a client. Thus, client-centered therapists must have the ability to accept and tolerate client differences because they acknowledge that each client is different and important in his or her own unique way (Rathus).
Client-centered theory has been used in interpretive communication in the phenomenological tradition, viewing “communication as the experience of self and others through dialogue” (Griffin, 2005, p. 32). This tradition puts emphasis on the perception and interpretation of individual experiences. Rogers actively applied client-centered therapy and this type of communication in his practice by proscribing three conditions that are necessary for change:
• Congruence – The match or fit between an individual’s inner feelings and the outer display.
• Unconditional Positive Regard – The attitude of acceptance that is not contingent on performance.
• Empathic Understanding – This is the caring skill of temporarily laying aside views and values to enter another’s world without prejudice (Griffin, 2005, p. 30).
Positive Psychology Movement
There is currently a new movement toward positive psychology, which is focused on helping individuals become happier, emotionally stronger, and more mentally well balanced. This type of psychological treatment emphasizes, “Looking on the bright side” even during episodes that may be considered bad. Research groups formed to study the positive components of this method of treatment, resulting in journal articles, and books emphasizing the strengths and virtues of positive psychology (Paquette, 2006; Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005; as cited in La Torre, 2007, p. 152).
This type of therapy began to be misused and negative emotion, that may play a beneficial role in therapy, was ignored completely. In fact, “pessimism can even become an important strategy to deal with anxiety. Individuals can use negative thinking as a defensive strategy to work through their anxiety with the result being just as effective as those who take an optimistic approach” (Chang & Norem, 2002; as cited in La Torre, p. 153).
In a true clinical setting, a patient is free to express feelings and experiences to facilitate self-healing through positive intervention techniques. With the data available on positive psychology, many clinicians may be tempted to utilize a particular positive intervention with the belief it will make a tremendous impact on the patient. However, this may be unhealthy for the patient who may need to experience...