Evaluate the claim that Person-Centred Therapy offers the Therapist all that he/she will need to treat clients.
Carl Rogers. Background and Influences
Strengths and Weaknesses
In this essay I will be discussing the viability of Person-Centred Therapy as an exclusive method of treatment for clients. Without an appreciation of this approach it would be difficult to judge the merits of the claim as laid out in the main essay title. Therefore I will begin with an introduction to Carl Rogers, his background and influences.
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A person who cannot find inner happiness or value is living a life that is worthless. In knowing the true self a person will be more effective in the achievement of goals. The themes of inner striving, self-examination and worthwhileness are constant in Rogers’ developing Theory of Personality.
Rogers studied Agriculture, History then Religion at Wisconsin-Madison University. He joined a group of Christians who travelled to Peking, China for an International Christian Conference. During his stay in Peking he was inspired by the work of Lao Tsu (see Notes ii) who is credited with the work “Tao te Ching” Lao Tsu sets out a theory of the unfolding nature of ‘Being’ He claimed that within each component or organism there exists a desire to reach its own potential, or to ‘Complete’ He states that the greatest good is being completely ‘Present’ in your life. He said …
“Knowing others is intelligence;
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
Mastering yourself is true power.”
Tao te Ching (Translation Stephen Mitchell 1999)
It is possible to trace Rogers’ own belief in the here and now, and the ‘knowingness’ of each individual. Roger’s maintained for the purposes of therapy …
“The best vantage point for understanding behaviour is from the internal frame of reference of the individual himself”
Client-Centred Therapy (1951)
Carl Rogers went on to have a long and distinguished career. He became Professor of Clinical Psychology at Ohio University and Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago. He was elected President of the American Psychological Society and was the first President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists. He wrote many critically acclaimed books (see Notes iii)
During and after the Depression he worked closely with children and families and later on with returning veterans. His experiences and research in these areas helped clarify many facets of his theories. He recorded his findings in Client-Centred Therapy (1951) and The necessary and sufficient conditions of personality change (1957)
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (see Notes iv) ‘New Deal’ in 1930’s was also instrumental in the development of his theories. During this period of socio-economic upheaval, Rogers observed through his research and experiments the importance of several core conditions which needed to be present in the therapeutic relationship. He would reiterate the phrase …
“Will it work? Is it effective?”
In this there are echoes of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own words, quoted by Godfrey T. Barrett-Lennard (see Notes v)…
“Will it work? Will it do some good?”
The Handbook of Person-Centred Therapy in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2007) …
Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by the work of the Danish Existential Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard (see Notes vi) He focused in particular on those areas dealing with freedom of choice and conditions of worth. Other facets of his ‘Theory of Personality’, namely...