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Current Psychotherapies Humanism and Person-Centered Therapy

Rebecca Lawthom r.lawthom@mmu.ac.uk

Who can we thank for the Humanistic Theory?

Carl Ransom Rogers (1902-1987)-

American theorist most closely associated with the humanistic theory. Some times called The Founder of Humanism.

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attended

University of Wiscosin.
Also one of the found fathers of the Humanistic theory.

What defines the Humanistic Theory ?

People are inherently good and try to make morally right decisions.


Hierarchy of


Perceptions of your experiences is a result of your own view rather than environment.

Focus on self, the individual. Nurture over nature. Decisions are goal-oriented , and organism has a natural tendency to strive, actualize and enhance individuals experience. This idea of a humans journey to self actualization is best described in Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Key Points and Terms

Developed by Carl Rogers.

Also termed Client-Centered.

Humanistic, or Phenomenological Therapy The person is viewed as creative, responsible, developing individual By providing a therapeutic atmosphere which is real, caring, and non-judgmental the person can develop their full potential


PC challenges:

The assumption that the counsellor knows best The validity of advice, suggestion, persuasion, teaching, diagnosis, and interpretation The belief that clients cannot understand and resolve their own problems without direct help The focus on problems over persons



Therapy as a journey shared by two people

The persons innate striving for


actualization The personal characteristics of the therapist The quality of the therapeutic relationship


The counsellors creation of a permissive,

growth promoting climate

People are capable of self-directed growth if involved in a therapeutic relationship Person-Centered Therapy is a form of

humanistic therapy

Rogers Basic Assumptions

Rogers believed in an actualizing tendency in all human beings Represented movement towards the realization of the individuals full potential Viewed as part of a formative tendency

Formative tendency represents movement

toward order, complexity and interrelatedness Seen across aspects of nature including the stars, crystals, microorganisms and humans

Basic Requirements for the Therapeutic Environment (Therapist)


Correspondence between the therapists thoughts and their behavior Therapists regard/attitude remains unaltered regardless of the clients choices Profound interest and care for the clients perceptions and feelings

Unconditional Positive Regard


Basic Requirements for the Therapeutic Environment (Client)


At therapy onset, self regard/self-esteem often low Improvement correlated with success in therapy At therapy onset, focus on what others think Progress associated with internal locus-of-evaluation At therapy onset, rigid Success related to flexibility



Distinctive Components of Person-Centered Therapy

Therapists attitude

can be necessary AND sufficient conditions for change

Therapist needs to be immediately

present and accessible to clients

Distinctive Components of Person-Centered Therapy

Intensive, continuous focus on client's

phenomenological world
Process marked by clients ability to live


in the moment Focus on personality change, not structure

of personality

Comparing Person-Centered Therapy with Psychoanalysis

Language How to Understand The individual Common Sense (PC) Esoteric (Psychoanalysis)


Subjective Interpersonal (PC) Objective intrapersonal (Psychoanalysis) Purpose (PC) Causality (Psychoanalysis)

Characterization Of the individual Holistic (PC) Reductionistic (Psychoanalysis) View of Human Nature People are basically good (PC) People are bad (Psychoanalysis)

Comparing Person-Centered Therapy with Psychoanalysis

Role of Therapist Facilitate self discovery (PC) Interpretation for the pt (Psychoanalysis) Not central to the clients ability to change (PC) Fundamental to the change process (Psychoanalysis)

View of Transference

Presentation Of Therapist A caring person who is willing to listen (PC) Authority, teacher (Psychoanalysis)

Difference between PC Therapist and Behavior Therapist

PC would argue that behavioral changes occur

through internal factors whereas behavioral therapy sees behavior changing through external factors.

History of PC Therapy

Carl Rogers was born 1902, Oak Park Illinois Family emphasized strong work ethic, responsibility and the fundamentals of religion. Graduated 1924 from University of Wisconsin Started at the Union Theological Seminary then transferred to Teachers College, Columbia University Worked for 12 years at a Child-Guidance Center In 1939 published Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child Offered professorship at Ohio State University 1940 Rogers presented Some Newer concepts in Psychotherapy at the University of Minnesota (viewed by most as the birth of Client-Centered Therapy) Published Counseling and Psychotherapy in 1942 During WWII served as Director of Counseling Services for the US Organizations Served as head of University of Chicago Counseling Center (12 years) In 1957, Rogers published classic paper on necessary and sufficient conditions for therapy. Rogers died in 1987

Current Status of PC Therapy

Special interest of Rogers was application of

his theory to international relationships Since 1982 Biennial International Forums on PC approach Workshops at Warm Springs Person-Centered Review began to be published in 1986 (renamed The PersonCentered Journal)

Theory of Personality 19 Propositions

1. Individual is center of a continually changing world of experience 2. Organism reacts based on their reality 3. Organism reacts as an organized whole 4. Organism has one basic tendency actualization 5. Behavior is goal directed based on perception of reality 6. Emotion accompanies and facilitates goal directed behavior

Theory of Personality 19 Propositions

7. Best point to understand behavior is from the individuals frame of reference 8. Part of the perceptual field is differentiated as the self 9. Self is formed through interaction 10. Values come from experience and introjection from others

Theory of Personality 19 Propositions

11. Experiences are integrated, ignored, or denied 12. Behavior is generally consistent with self concept 13. Behaviors inconsistent with self concept can occur but are seen as not owned 14. Psychological maladjustment comes from denied experiences

Theory of Personality 19 Propositions

15. Psychological adjustment occurs when experiences are assimilated 16. Experiences inconsistent with self-concept are perceived as threats 17. Under the right conditions inconsistent experiences can be


Theory of Personality 19 Propositions

18. When the individual integrates in all of their experiences they are more

understanding of others
19. As experiences are integrated an internal

locus-of-evaluation develops

Rogers Theory of Personality Summarized

Behavior is best understood through the

individuals reality (perception of experiences) For social purposes, reality is defined as

common perceptions across individuals

Personal growth occurs through decreased


Rogers Theory of Personality Summarized

Self actualization is the organisms one, basic

tendency (Rogers believed an organism has

one basic tendency and striving which is to actualize, maintain and enhance the experiencing organism

Rogers Theory of Personality Summarized

Experiences inconsistent with self concept are

threats leading to increased rigidity Therapy allows the individual to accept and integrate all of their experiences
In Roger's personality theory, behavior is

defined as a goal directed attempt to satisfy an organism's needs

Other Concepts
Experience is the private

world of the

Reality basically refers to the private

perceptions of the individual; For social purposes, reality consists of perceptions that have a high degree of commonality among individuals

Other Concepts
Self is the organized

gestalt of I and me

According to Rogers, the center of an

individual's world of experience is the

The process by which an individual

becomes aware of an experience is known as


Other Concepts
In ambiguous situations individuals tend to

symbolize experiences in a manner consistent with self concept Carl Rogers would view neurosis as the result of incongruence between the real self and the ideal self. All humans had an actualizing tendency, which he saw as a part of the formative tendency of the world

Rogerian View of Psychotherapy

Implied Therapeutic Conditions

Client and therapist must be in psychological contact Client must experience distress Client must be willing to receive conditions offered by therapist

Process of PC Therapy
Therapy begins at first contact

In the first interview, a person centered

therapist will go where the client goes For Carl Rogers, empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence (genuineness) were the 3 basic requirements to create a therapeutic environment

Process of PC Therapy
Respect shown immediately for client

In addition to the basic requirements of the

therapeutic environment for the therapist, Rogers believed the client must focus on selfconcept, locus-of-evaluation and experiencing Therapys length is determined by client (In person centered therapy termination is decided by the client)

Process of PC Therapy
Quick suggestions and reassurances are avoided Empathy - Understanding another individual by "living" in their internal frame of reference Person centered therapists believe that empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence are necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change

Process of PC Therapy
Congruence - a correspondence between

the thoughts and the behavior of a therapist Client centered therapy focuses most heavily on the present A successful person centered therapy outcome would be defined by the client's evaluation that therapy was beneficial

Therapist Role and Function

Function: to be present and accessible to

clients, to focus on immediate experience, to be real in the relationship with clients Through the therapists attitude of genuine caring, respect, acceptance, and understanding, clients become less defensive and more open to their experience and facilitate the personal growth

Therapist Role and Function

Role: Therapists attitude and belief in the inner resources of the client, not in techniques, facilitate personal change in the client Use of self as an instrument of change Focuses on the quality of the therapeutic relationship Serves as a model of a human being struggling toward greater realness Is genuine, integrated, and authentic Can openly express feelings and attitudes that are present in the relationship with the client

Therapy Goals
helping a person become a fully functioning

person Clients have the capacity to define their goals an openness to experience A trust in themselves An internal source of evaluation A willingness to continue growing

Clients Experience in Therapy

Incongruence: discrepancy between self-

perception and experience in realityanxietymotivation to help As clients feel understood and accepted, their defensiveness is less necessary and they become more open to their experiences Therapeutic relationship activates clients selfhealing capacities

Relationship between Therapist and Client

Emphasizes the attitudes and personal

characteristics of the therapist and the quality of therapeutic relationship.

Therapist listening in an accepting way to

their clients, they learn how to listen acceptingly to themselves.

Relationship between Therapist and Client

A central variable related to progress in

person-centered therapy is the relationship

between therapist and client

A person-centered therapist is a facilitator

Therapeutic Techniques
It is not technique-oriented

The therapeutic relationship is the primary

agent of growth in the client Therapists presence: being completely engaged in the relationship with clients. The best source of knowledge about the client is the individual client Caring confrontations can be beneficial


counseling, group counseling, businesses, international relations, community development education, marriage and family A variety of problems: anxiety, crisis intervention, interpersonal difficulties, depression, personality disorder..

Contribution from a Multicultural Perspective

Contributions Has reached more than 30 counties and has been translated to 12 languages Reduction of racial and political tensions Limitations Some people need more structure, coping skills, directedness Some may focus on family or societal expectations instead of internal evaluation May be unfamiliar with people in different cultures

Contribution of PC Therapy

Active role of responsibility of client Inner and subjective experience Relationship-centered Focus on therapists attitudes Focus on empathy, being present, and respecting the clients values Value multicultural context

Summary and Evaluation


Discount the significance of the past Misunderstanding the basic concept: e.g., reflecting feelings.
People in crisis situations often need more directive intervention strategies. Client tend to expect a more structured approach.

Bozarths (1998) Summarization of Research on Psychotherapy

According to Bozarth's summarization of research on psychotherapy, the most consistent variables affecting therapy are empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence (genuineness) Effective psychotherapy predicated on:

Relationship between therapist and client Internal and external

Type of therapy, technique, training and experience of therapists are largely irrelevant Clients who receive psychotherapy improve more than those who do not Little support that specific treatments are best for particular issues Most consistent variables related to effectiveness are empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard