CLIENT-CENTERED THERAPY - CARL ROGERS
Moving from the presupposition that a mature, well-adapted person will base his/her judgement on intrinsic elements of satisfaction and self-realization, Rogers avoided imposing objectives on his clients during therapy. According to Rogers it is the client who must "take over" and direct the course of conversation and the therapy session. The task of the therapist is that of creating conditions thanks to which, during a session, the client may come into contact with his/her innermost nature and evaluate alone which kind of lifestyle is most intrinsically gratifying for him/her. As he had a very positive view of people, Carl Rogers believed that
through autonomous decision-making, patients would succeed not only in being satisfied with themselves, but also in becoming individuals capable of establishing socially-adequate relations. The road towards attaining these positive decisions however is not an easy one to travel on.
According to Rogers and other therapists generally operating in accordance with the humanistic and existential schools of thought, people must assume responsibility for their own lives also when they are disturbed. It is often difficult for a therapist to abstain from giving advice or taking responsibility for a client’s existence, especially when the client appears to be incapable of making autonomous decisions. Rogerian therapists closely adhere to the rule in this regard, according to which, once a warm, encouraging and receptive therapeutic setting has been provided, the individual’s inborn capacity for growth and self-realization will eventually emerge. They believe that if the therapist intervenes openly, the process of growth and self-realization will be hindered as a result, and that whatever short-term relief may derive from the therapist’s intervention, it will interfere with long-term growth. The therapist must not become yet another person whose desires have to be satisfied by the client.
According to Rogers, the therapist should possess three fundamental qualities, which are: congruence, respect and empathy. Congruence - also called authenticity - includes spontaneity, openness and being genuine. In the therapist we must find nothing counterfeit; he/she must not remain hidden behind a professional mask and must reveal his/her thoughts and feelings to the client in an informal and frank manner. In a certain sense, the therapist, behaving in such an open, honest manner provides a model of what the clients might become if they get in touch with their feelings, express them and assume responsibility for doing so. The therapist must have the courage to present himself to others as he really is.
The second attribute of a good therapist, according to Rogers, is the capacity to offer positive, unconditional consideration. He must appreciate the client for what he/she is and should communicate a non-possessive affection, also when he cannot approve of the client’s behaviour. People have value for the simple fact that they are people, and the therapist must sincerely and deeply care about his patients and respect them for the simple reason they are human beings engaged in the struggle to grow, develop and survive in this world. The third quality, a deep empathic understanding, is the capacity to see the world - moment by moment – through the eyes of the client, and to understand feelings from both his own phenomenological point of view, which the client is well aware of, and also from points of view of which he might be only vaguely and confusedly aware.
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