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Humanistic Psychology & Carl Rogers' Theory of Personality

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  • 0:58 Client-Centered Therapy
  • 1:48 Self-Concept
  • 2:09 Self-Worth
  • 2:47 Self-Image
  • 3:48 Incongruence
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Balik
Do ever wonder about the origins of contemporary therapy practices? This lesson discusses the work of Carl Rogers and how Humanistic Psychology developed into a therapy style that helps us try to find and reach that best version of ourselves.

Carl Rogers

One type of psychology that offers a theory of personality is known as humanistic psychology. Humanistic psychology attempts to help individual people achieve their full potential. It maintains that people are fundamentally good. Humanistic psychology is historically significant for its focus on good qualities and flourishing people, instead of suboptimal qualities and psychologically unsound ones.

Alongside Abraham Maslow, one of the forerunners of humanist psychology was Carl Rogers. He is especially well-known for non-directive or client-centered therapy. The therapist in this type of counseling tries to create a non-judgmental environment by being open and honest, accepting and empathetic. The term 'empathy' refers to the ability to recognize and feel the emotions of others, to put yourself in another's shoes. The goal of a client-centered approach is to help clients themselves to find their own answers to their questions. In fact, it's called non-directive or client-centered therapy precisely because the client, rather than the therapist, is supposed to come up with the solutions.

But Rogers is also known for his theory of personality, which focuses on a self-concept, or a person's perceptions and beliefs about himself.

Rogers believed that three different components constitute the self-concept: self-worth, self-image and ideal self. Let's define each of these components. First, self-worth, or self-esteem, is the set of beliefs we hold about ourselves. For Rogers, self-worth was heavily influenced by early childhood. He believed that for positive self-worth to develop, it was important for children to receive unconditional positive regard. Unconditional positive regard is acceptance no matter what a person says or does and support in spite of mistakes and shortcomings. As a therapist, Rogers tried to provide unconditional positive regard for his clients.

Self-image, meanwhile, is how we see ourselves, such as whether we see ourselves as being attractive or unattractive. And finally, the ideal self is the person we would like to be. Our ideal selves have fulfilled our goals and ambitions. But the ideal self can change over time. For example, the goals and ambitions that you have today may differ from the goals and ambitions you held when you were five.

Although everyone's potential is unique, Rogers used the phrase 'fully functioning person' to describe all self-actualized individuals.

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