Humanistic Psychology is a form of psychology that came to prevalence in the 1950s; it departed from the scientific methodology of the behaviourists and Sigmund Freud's psychodynamic approach, which focussed on past experiences and the subconscious and instead focussed on the qualities unique to human life (Benson 2012). Carl Rogers 1902 – 1987 was at the forefront of developing new humanistic psychological theories that would radically change the approach of psychotherapy forever and concurrently lay the foundations for the field of professional counselling. (Kirshenbaum, 2004).
In this essay I intend to explore Rogers humanistic theories and I aim to show how Rogers theories impacted the role of the counselling today. I will reveal how Rogers departed from the therapeutic relationships of the past and developed a new person centred approach to therapy. I will show that this radical change was based on Rogers ideas that counsellors should not 'inflict' their own solutions or opinions on clients rather they should actively listen and attend to their stories. I will explore Rogers beliefs on 'the fully functioning human', specifically discussing his theory that that the human is an organism striving for self-actualization. I will go on to analyse Rogers three core conditions, unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence. I will conclude the essay by exploring the lasting legacy of Carl Rogers.
Rogers developed his theories based on a holistic approach that put the client or 'person' at the centre of therapy. Rogers split from the idea of a patient and instead referred to the person seeing a therapist as a 'client'. Although Rogers was not the first person to use the word 'client', he is accredited with popularising it (Journal of Counselling and Development, 2004). Howard Kirschenbaum, the world's leading authority on the life and works of Carl Rogers points out that the word client is 'more than a semantic distinction, the word connotes a departure from the medical model of illness, emphasizing that a person seeking help should be not treated as a dependent patient but as a responsible client' (Kirshenbaum, 2004, p117).