CARL ROGERS (1902 – 1987)
Best known for his ‘Humanistic Psychology’ and its application as ‘Person Centred Therapy’, Carl Rogers devoted more than fifty years of his life promoting and practising his beliefs.
Carl Roger’s basic assumptions are that people have a vast potential for understanding themselves and solving their own problems without direct intervention of a therapist, and that people have an innate desire to improve on themselves and are capable of self directed growth. He showed great respect and trust in his clients.
Carl was brought up in a warm and loving family but in a very strict and orthodox Protestant Christian atmosphere. He could rarely go out to play and spent much of his time in scholarly pursuits. At the university his interests changed from Agriculture to History to religion, till finally he took to the study of Clinical Psychology and stuck to it for the rest of his life. In 1964 he joined Western Behavioural Sciences institute as a faculty member.
In 1960’s and 70’s there was growing dissatisfaction in pshychoanalytic (Freud and his followers) and Behaviour therapy (Skinner, Wolpe, Bandura, Meichenbaum…). During this period the counsellors were trying to find alternatives to psychoanalytic and Behaviour Therapies and consequently Person Centered Approach (Carl Rogers),Existential Therapy, Gestalt Therapy and other therapies were developed. In 1968 Carl Rogers started the Center for the Studies of the Person in La Jolla, California.
The core theme in his psychotherapy is unconditional positive regard and acceptance of the client as he is. In an interview, when asked what would he like his parents to know about his work, if he could communicate with them, Carl Rogers, remembering the child rearing practice of his time replied: He could not imagine talking to his parents anything of this sort because he knew they would have some negative thoughts and would not be non-judgemental.
During the last 15 years of his life he concentrated his efforts on reduction of interracial conflicts and achievement of world peace for which he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1987 he had to undergo surgery for a hip fracture. Although the operation was successful, immediately after the surgery his heart began to sink and he died within a few days – just as he had looked forward to – ‘in his boots’, working till the end of his life! Rogers always said that he had lived a full and exciting life. Cain, in an assessment of his impact, wrote that Rogers embodied the characteristics of a fully functioning person. *****