Founder - Carl Rogers (1903-1987)
The Person Centered or Humanistic theory has basic assumptions that people are essentially trustworthy, that they have a vast potential for understanding themselves and resolving their own problems without direct intervention on the therapist part and that they are capable of self directed growth, if they are involved in a therapeutic relationship.
Everyone is free to choose what they become by creating their own values and undertaking actions in accordance with those values. Emotional distress comes from acting in accordance with other people's values instead of their own. The therapist facilitates the client's search for self awareness and a positive self image in a non-directive manner. Person Centered therapy hopes to achieve therapeutic conditions which include congruence or genuineness, unconditional positive regard and acceptance, empathic understanding.
Humanistic theory (also known as Humanistic perceptual theory) it is perhaps the opposite of behavioural theory. It emphasises the value and importance of a person’s subjective, personal perceptions of what they experience. Humanistic theory acknowledges childhood formative influences but puts more importance on how people can be facilitated to take responsibility for their own lives by living rationally and ethically and becoming a fulfilled person.
The giant of Humanistic theory is Carl Rogers. Rogers was an accomplished communicator in person, also through his writings and film. He was also a practitioner who looked at his own experiences.
Rogers basically saw people as good or healthy, not bad or ill. In his opinion mental health was a normal progression and therefore mental illness and other human problems where a distortion of that natural tendency. He believed that the person in therapy was more important than the therapist’s technique.
He demystified therapy focusing on the person of the counsellor and the client rather than a concentration of technique and method. He saw people as subjects rather than objects. This offered a new way and broke away from earlier traditions. Rogers played an important role in the development of psychology and psychotherapy before Rogers nearly all forms of therapy centred on psychiatry and psychoanalysis.
Through experience it became apparent to Rogers that it is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial and what experiences have been deeply buried.
Roger’s theory is a relatively simple one. In Roger’s opinion the core of mans nature is essentially positive and he is a trustworthy organism. Rogers rests on his profound experience that human beings become increasingly trustworthy once they feel that at a deep level that their subjective experience is respected and progressively understood. The best-known contributions are the core conditions, which facilitate counselling and educational practice these are: congruence (realness), acceptance and empathy.
Rogers believed that the person doing therapy was more important than the therapist’s philosophy or technique.