Carl Rogers And Humanistic Psychology

Carl Rogers is considered one of the most influential psychologists in the world.

 His teachings on humanistic psychology and his person-centered approach to therapy and education helped shape the world of psychology as we know it today.

He wrote several personal development books and hundreds of professional papers during his career.

The Background Of Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers was born in Oak Park, Illinois near Chicago on January 8, 1902. He lived to the age of 85 and died on February 4, 1987.

Rogers was a very bright child and was able to read before he even began kindergarten. He was raised in a strict and isolated environment, and as such became a disciplined and independent person at an early age.

He had a love of science and using the scientific method for practical applications. His first area of study was agriculture at the University of Wisconsin. He later switched to history, and then to religion. But after taking a trip to China, he began to have doubts about his religious beliefs and eventually decided to switch careers again, this time settling on teaching.

While working on his teaching degree, he delved into child study, and found his true calling. He worked with troubled children, lectured on his experiences, and later wrote a book on the subject.

Carl Rogers went on to specialize in psychology and became a professor of clinical psychology at Ohio State. He set up a private counseling practice where he conducted research and devised new methods for helping his patients.

He received much acclaim and prestigious awards such as the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology, Award for Distinguished Contributions to Applied Psychology as a Professional Practice, and Humanist of the Year.

Theories Of Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers is ered one of the founders of humanistic psychology. Humanistic psychology teaches that people are inherently good and it encompasses a holistic approach to the development of the personality by looking at things such as human potential, spirituality, free will, and creativity.

Carl Rogers felt if the natural developmental processes unfolded as they should, the personality would be creative and self-actualized. Rogers took the person-centered approach when counseling patients and teaching students in an effort to allow full development of the personality.

His self help advice and books also fall under the category of humanistic psychology. Self help groups and other forms of therapy such as co-counseling are humanistic as well since they seek to create more positive experiences and reduce the negative in order to mold a more fulfilling life.


His approach towards psychology was based on 19 principles.

1. Everyone exists in a constantly changing set of experiences at which they are the center. This theory is called phenomenological psychology.

2. People react to the set of experiences as they happen and as they are perceived. These experiences are reality for the individual.

3. An individual reacts in a holistic manner to this set of experiences also called the phenomenal field.

4. A portion of the field eventually becomes differentiated into the self.

5. The result of interaction with this field and other people is the formation of the self as an organized conception of the relationship between the self and the values attached to the events.

6. A person has one driving tendency and that is to actualize and enhance his life experience.

7. The internal perspective of an individual is the best vantage point for understanding his behavior.

8. Behavior of an individual is his attempt to satisfy his need for experience within his field of perception.

9. Emotion guides this behavior and is proportional to the behavior's perceived significance.

10. Values that are attached to a person's experiences are sometimes taken from others as if they were experienced directly, and can become distorted.

11. Experiences are symbolized, ignored, or distorted.

12. Most behaviors adopted however, are consistent with the person's concept of self.

13. In some cases, behaviors are brought about when they haven't been symbolized and these can be inconsistent with the idea of the self and therefore the behavior isn't owned by the person.

14. A person is psychologically adjusted when his experiences and symbols are consistent with his concept of self.

15. A person is psychologically maladjusted when his experiences are not symbolized and consistent with his self concept. This creates a form of psychological tension.

16. When these inconsistent experiences occur, they are often perceived as a threat, and a person becomes more rigid in his self structure for protection.

17. Under the proper conditions, with the threats removed, a person can examine these inconsistencies and assimilate them properly.

18. When a person has properly integrated his experiences, he becomes more aware of himself and more understanding and accepting of other people.

19. As a person examines his experiences, removes distorted symbols, and accepts them into his concept of self, he constantly evolves his value system.

Books By Carl Rogers

• "Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child" was written in 1939. Carl Rogers wrote this book after working extensively with troubled children. The book relates his experiences and offers advice on treating such children using the psychological methods he devised.

• "Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory" was originally published in 1951 and introduced the psychology profession to the idea of humanistic psychology and the ability of the patient to benefit from self help methods of therapy.

• "On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy" was first published in 1961. It was republished with commentary by Peter Kramer M.D. in 1995. In this book, Carl Rogers explains his concept of client-centered therapy. This book speaks to professionals such as psychologists and counselors and is also an informative read for individuals seeking a deeper look into themselves.

• "Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become" was published in 1969. It was written with the goal of helping children and young people develop a love of learning. In it, Carl Rogers offered practical advice to teachers and school administrators for dealing with issues such as discipline, classroom management, and child-centered learning.

• "On Personal Power: Inner Strength and Its Revolutionary Impact" was published in 1977. This is one of the personal development books by Carl Rogers that was targeted to the average person seeking self help advice. In it, Rogers explores his person-centered theories and discusses how to build better relationships that create a mystical and peaceful world for all earth's inhabitants.

• "A Way of Being" was published in 1980 towards the end of Roger's career. It sums up his lifelong belief in humanism and calls upon all readers to help create a more humane future for all people. This work by Carl Rogers is more philosophical than his other personal development books and reflects back on his decades of helping people reach their full potentials.

The Legacy Of Carl Rogers

The writings of Carl Rogers continue to be expanded, compiled, and republished with commentary, many years after his death.

He left a lasting impact on those in the field of personality development, psychological treatment, and human potential.

He was one of the first professionals to mix psychology with spirituality, and treat his clients holistically. His books continue to inspire new generations of personal development enthusiasts, and his methods are regaining popularity as treatments in psychology swing back from 'instant cures' to more holistic approaches.



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