In Praise of Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers said that the patient dictates the direction and pace of the session, and I would imagine that this great man, a true giant among psychologists, came to this conclusion after long experience.
Letting the patient take charge of his or her own sessions is empowering in itself, and it saves the therapist having to think too much about what is to be done. People love talking about themselves; the therapeutic situation, the cosy environment of a therapy session, gives them the perfect opportunity. A few polite nods and the occasional “I see” or “yes, I understand” will usually be enough to keep the session rolling on towards its inevitable conclusion – a booking for the same time next week.
Carl Rogers is the man who simplified ‘talking therapy’ it and made it work so well. The concept is so simple, it’s brilliant and Rogers far outstrips Freud in the genius stakes. Carl Rogers was the inventor and instigator of the best, most incisive, most effective type of common-sense client-centred therapy, without the baggage of Freud’s sexual repression and buried memories. Rogers realized that people understand themselves best when they view matters from the vantage point of their own unique experience, perceptions and feelings. Each person’s unique outlook is the major determinant affecting behaviour.
Rogers understood perfectly that healthy people are aware, or can easily become aware, of the reasons for their behaviour. Healthy people are innately good and effective and therefore able to achieve their goals. The only thing stopping them is faulty learning.
Nor are healthy people merely passive respondents to their environment, rather, they are self-directed. Therapists can and should create conditions that will facilitate independent decision making. The ability to make one’s own decisions could also be part of the survival strategy. People who are able to make their own decisions are invariably healthier and on the whole, more civilized, especially when they are not concerned with the demands, evaluations and preferences of others. Once a person reaches a state of ‘self-actualization’ they are well on their way to fulfilling their potential as human beings.
Rogers always avoided the imposition of goals; he always allowed clients to take the lead and direct the course of the conversation and this is something that I have always found works best. Their own intrinsic qualities of self determination always surface in the end. Allowing the client to grow in this way is what Rogers referred to as ‘Unconditional Positive Regard.’ Such is my regard for Rogers; I have included a picture of him.
For more information about Carl Rogers and modern mind therapy, read All in the Mind – Hypnosis, Suggestion and the New Mesmerists. Available as an Instant PDF Download.