Rogers ranks 5th of out of the 25 most cited psychologists in Introductory Psychology books and ranked 6th most eminent psychologist out of the top 100,
(Haggbloom, Warnick, Warnick, Jones, Yarbrough, Russell, and Monte, 2002).



Humanistic Psychology


Humanism was founded in the 1950's by Abraham Maslow, George Kelly and Carl Rogers himself.The American Association of Humanistic psychology (AAHP) purports that Humanistic psychology incorporated all schools of psychology with particular focus on concepts like love, belonging and self-actualisation (Roth, 2000). Humanisitic psychology was a product of its time. The 50's and 60's were a period of "rapid social change", people were beginning to question the very fabric of society. Humanism is sometimes described as the third force in Psychology. The other two forces at that time were Behaviourism and Psychodynamics. Behaviourism's interests lay in studying directly observable behaviours only and gave little or no attention to people’s subjective experience. Psychodynamics was concerned with understanding behaviour with its particular focus on accessing and understanding the proceeds of the unconscious mind for counselling purposes. Psychoanalysts took a somewhat negative view of human nature. Humanism has its roots in clinical practise also yet it differs in its view on the nature of people. Humanism believed that people were all basically “good” or could be once they feel truly accepted and are making progress towards being the person they innately desire to be (self-actualisation).


"people, particularly those who were getting better persisted in referring to themselves as whole people with intentions, plans and ambitions, instead of seeing themselves as battling ids and super egos, or a collection of stimulus-response links and behavioural contingencies" (Hayes,2000. p,10).

The central theme to humanistic psychology was human beings strive to grow and develop. Problems to arise when they become prevented from doing so. This concept of aiding people to develop has been applied to areas such as therapy, conflict resolution and education. It is not always fully appreciated the contribution Rogers and other humanists have made to psychology as the concepts may seem overly simplistic but in humanisms early years, some of the ideas were radical, and so experienced much resistance. Humanism succeeded in developing a form of psychology that was perhaps simpler yet no less valid that other approaches to psychology. It was not hindered by complicated "mechanisms" and subconscious "processes". Its contribution to how therapy is conducted is significant(Hayes, 2000). It brought the human element back into psychology.


"The humanistic school of thought, in many ways had far more influence than its size would suggest" (Hayes, 2000.p, 10).

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Psychotherapy


Rogers was the first to open psychotherapy up to scrutiny by the scientific community.This would show the validity of his exceptional approach. With the permission of clients, he recorded their meetings so he could study and review his methods(he did this for the first time in 1938 on a wire recorder (Kirschenbaum 2004). It is now appreciated the importance of taking a scientific approach to psychology but at the time it was unconventional and went against the status quo. Psychoanalysts (who were the pervasive therapists at the time) did not wish to have meetings recorded. According to Gendlin (1968) this was more to protect themselves, rather than for the protection of patients.
Psychoanalysts enjoyed a sense of superiority over clients. It was Rogers view that the relationship between the two should be conducted based on mutual respect. Where psychoanalysts would dictate the course of the sessions, Rogers took a more passive, supporting role. He believed clients should find the solutions from within. This would be achieved by therapists offering unconditional positive regard and respect to their clients. Having the freedom to openly discuss pertinant issues in a supportive environment, clients could begin to resolve to their own concerns. It is now widely accepted that a mutually respectful relationship between client and therapists is critical if the client is to be helped,(Farber, 2007).
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Peace and Reconciliation

noble-peace-prize_3.jpg
Later in his career, Rogers broadened his client centred approach to become, a person centred approach. Its focus was on resolving interpersonal conflicts.He managed to apply his methods on the international stage, earning him a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, shortly before his death. He had worked on resolving conflicts in many different countries including Northern Ireland, between Catholics and Protestants and between Blacks and Whites in South Africa. Most notably he facilitated The Rust Workshop in 1985, a four day event in Austria aiming to resolve conflict in Central America (Kirschenbaum, 2004).
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Communicating His Message


Carl Rogers was one of most prolific writers psychology has known. His books have been translated into more of than 60 languages, with millions of copies being printed world wide. He wrote 16 books and over 200 professional articles and research papers.
A pioneer, Rogers did not just rely on printed media to spread his message. He participated in the now famous Gloria film series. In which a single lady had therapy sessions with three prominent psychotherapists of that era. The three therapists where Rogers himself, Albert Ellis a rational emotive therapist (links to cbt) and Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls.





















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Encounter groups



Rogers participated in a documentary “Journey into self” which showed him conducting an encounter group. The documentary won an Academy Award in 1969 for best feature length documentary.
This is a form of therapy developed by Rogers and other humanists.
The Groups usually consist of 8 to 12 people. Members are seated in a circle. The focus of the group is for members to become more aware of their emotions and body language. The therapist attempts to build trust between those present to facilitate greater communication. By expressing themselves in an open way, it can build confidence and bring a certain emotional freedom. However this form of therapy may not be suitable for more emotionally vulnerable people where perceived criticism may cause undue harm, (personcentred.com, 2012).



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Education


In 1969 Rogers wrote "Freedom to learn". In it, Rogers describes a student driven educational system that could harness the individual need for actualization. The book encompasses earlier papers Rogers had written on the subject. The book was re-published in 1983 and 1994.
freedom_to_learn.jpg

Rogers’s beliefs on education paralleled his opinions on therapy. Educators like therapists are there to facilitate growth. Instead of the teacher dictating the agenda, Rogers felt the student should lead his own path in learning. In this way the student was more likely to be interested and engage with the subject matter.
Similar to his views on therapy, lessons should be conducted in an atmosphere of acceptance and positive regard. Congruence between the teacher/facilitator and student is critical. This gives freedom to the facilitator; they need not put up a façade. They are free to expose their own limitations and human frailties. The teacher is coming from a position of equality rather than one of authority. In a class room setting the facilitator will become one of the group and should express opinions as one member of the group not the leader,(Zimring,1999).

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Rogers as an educator himself knew the difficulties this could pose, but in true Rogerian style he claimed that the facilitator must communicate his difficulties to the students, this he believed had the power to resolve any issues.
A number of institutions have applied Rogerian education principles. There were attempts to change Californian teacher education. A graduate program for nursing at the medical college of Ohio that took the Rogerian approach began to encounter difficulties as lines between student and teacher became blurred. According to Zimring, 1999, students needed to be more respectful of the teacher’s superior experience. There were other difficulties concerning grading.

“The usual type of evaluation by faculty was not seen by students as sharing with them the power and the responsibility for their learning.” (Zimring, 1999)

The solution came in the form of having a teacher/ peer graded system in place. Rules were set down as to criteria that must be followed. Feedback was given on assignments before they were submitted. Consequently students began to take more responsibility for their own learning and became more self-directed, stronger relationships developed between student and teachers (Zimring, 1999).
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Reflective listening


Rogers main influence on the field of Psychotherapy was to apply a humanistic approach, he was non-directive and trusted his clients capacity for growth. The following podcast explores these influences with emphasis on Rogers major contribution to Psychotherapy of reflective listening (Singer, 2007).


Podcast evaluating the influence of Carl Rogers in the field of Psychotherapy.
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