Carl Rogers and Counselling Approaches

One of the most influential psychologists in the 20th century was Carl Rogers, a man who had a profound influence on our understanding of how people evolve and grow. Rogers founded person-centred counselling

Counselling Wicklow
Conditions of Worth

following a lifetime of studying what he described as the ‘core conditions’ or values that enabled personal exploration & growth; congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy. Rogers held an optimistic view of human behaviour, that as humans we have an innate need to realise our potential and become ‘fully functioning’. He suggests that obstacles arise when there is a mismatch between our inner worlds (the authentic self) and our external environment (the false self).

Conditions of Worth
Through the process of socialisation, in family and society, we learn what behaviours are acceptable and personal qualities that are valued. We learn how to ‘fit in’ with our environment. Over time this can lead to the creation of a false self which meets the demands of the environment and draws approval from those around us. Self-worth that feels conditional, for example on achieving academic excellence, sports achievement or on maintaining a certain personal appearance can generate a shaky sense of self if these conditions change.
Rogers used the term ‘congruence’ or genuine to describe someone whose inner world reflects their outer experiencing. When we learn to be our ‘authentic selves’, we are less governed by the values of other people or institutions but operate from an internal centre of responsibility. Unconditional positive regard is fundamental to healthy growth, none of us is perfect or infallible and in order to be authentic, we need to know that regardless of mess-up’s or behaviour we retain a core worth. Some of the markers of ‘fully functioning’ are having a positive self-concept and
o understanding and accepting all parts of our personality
o being reality-oriented; we do not seek refuge in fantasy, addictions, or denial of problems
o we take responsibility for our own lives as adults
o we recognise and express our capacity to live creatively & spontaneously
o we seek out validating relationships & environments that help us to grow
o we become more capable of living in the present
Rogers stressed that the ‘fully functioning’ state is an ideal and a dynamic one, a state of realising that we are always ‘in process’ and evolving through life. What matters most is the continual striving and seeking growth in a way that does not stagnate after setbacks but that feeds our learning and helps us to try and try again.