Discussion Rogerian Therapy
Similar to Freud, Carl Rogers developed his theory from his extensive work with his patients. However, unlike Freud, he believed that people are typically healthy; being mentally healthy is the normal state. Although there are unhealthy people, they are not the norm or what one has to accept and live with throughout one’s life. Furthermore, Rogers believed that each person has one primary motivation—to realize his/her full potential or to be self-actualized. Finally, he posited that neurosis stems from incongruence between one’s real self and one’s ideal self. He applied this to his theory of counseling in the development of three therapeutic criteria that he felt were both necessary and sufficient to help the patient. These three qualities are now the foundation for modern person-centered therapy.
The three qualities that form the foundation of Rogerian therapy are empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. These will be relatively easy to express for people you naturally like but can be difficult to express for people whom you do not like nor agree with.
Imagine that you are a psychologist working with a population of individuals that tend to be more difficult to work with, such as sex offenders, elderly patients with dementia, or mentally challenged children. Use the Internet, Argosy University library resources, and your textbook to research the concepts of Rogerian therapy and respond to the following questions:
- Realistically, do you think it is possible to be congruent and to extend empathy and unconditional positive regard to these clients in a psychotherapeutic context? Why or why not?
- How do you think clinicians practicing Rogerian therapy would approach these concepts for these clients?
- How might Rogerian therapy be a helpful strategy for these clients?
- Is it possible these concepts of Rogerian therapy could hinder treatment?
Write your initial response in 4–5 paragraphs. Apply APA standards to citation of sources.
Realistically I do not think that it is possible to be congruent and to be able to extend empathy as well as unconditional positive regard to these types of clients in a psychotherapeutic context. I state this, because there needs to be trust and understanding between both the client and the counselor. If the sex offender does not want or believe that he/she needs counseling, he/she is least likely to admit the need to be there, and display low regard to the counselor for making them sit through a session. If we are dealing with a client that does not want the therapy of their own free will, they are not likely to express themselves at a normal level, and the contact will be impersonal, and the information superficial (Gazzola, 1997). For an elderly client with dementia, he/she may want to be there, but without the ability to hold and maintain information from one session to another; how likely would they be in believing what their therapist is telling them? They would not remember how they felt towards their therapist and if the trust was established or not. Each session would be a work in progress in laying the ground work for trust. The chance to reach a deeper understanding does not seem likely. Then depending on how mentally challenged the child is how likely are they to hold a child’s attention? Most “normal” children come across as having a difficult time in being patient. If the mentally ill child does not want to viewed a specific way and the therapist thinks that there are showing the correct type of empathy; then the child could be offended. The therapist could misinterpret what it is that the child is trying to tell them.
Since each client is different and no two cases are the same, it would depend on how far into their therapy sessions each client has received in their stages. Saying that the trust was built between the counselor and the sex offender, it is best that the counselor try to think in the mind of the client. How are they feeling? In what ways would he/she react in a positive light to change a part of their situation? The counselor wants to make sure to interpret the information correctly and therefore, if the client has expressed guilt in sexually assaulting a child, then they have an understanding and can work based on that guilt. This would be the ground work for their sessions.
For the elderly patient with dementia it would help the therapist to be empathic toward his/her situation. This would help the counselor ease the client’s discomfort and allow him/her to open up in each session. The most important thing counselors have to remember, is to not judge and also not relay their feelings or emotions onto the client. Studies have shown that when a client is comfortable in their surroundings, as well as with the therapist, that they are more likely to open up about their problems and work together to try and “solve the issue at hand (Smith, 1963).
For the mentally ill child, it would be useful to show congruence and be a real, genuine person. This would show the child that you care about what he/she might be feeling and are being honest in their expressions (Feist, 2008). At the same time, it would be useful to show unconditional positive regard toward the child, because this will help elicit “a warm and positive attitude toward the client” (Feist, 323). This would also allow the relationship to grow, and allow for psychological growth to occur (Feist, 323).
It is possible that Rogerian Therapy could hinder treatment among clients, because no therapy is one hundred percent effective. This is one of the reasons why we explore so many different methods of treatment for clients in school, because certain aspects of one treatment may work well together for a particular client, while another coupling of treatments might work best for another client. It depends on the case by case basis, and I already mentioned before no two clients are going to experience a situation in the exact same way. The world does not work that way, and everyone is unique. There is no simple cookie cutter routine for every situation, and each theorist has their own ideas for how psychological growth can occur.
In the cases all of these cases of sex offenders, dementia patients, and other mentally ill that are difficult to deal with it is entirely possible to have positive regard and empathy for them. To put on in one’s shoes is the concept of empathy, emotionally being able to relate. Being able to relate to a sex offender my be the most difficult, but according to roger’s the incongruence to one’s sense of self can lead these people to feel they must sex offend. That their stages of development as children was somehow distorted and the balance of their self and what the self is supposed to be is some how skewed.
Therapist in the Rogeran theory would approach their therapy techniques with empathy and unconditional positive regard. What this means is that their emotional output is genuine and their positive regard for their health and
success is also organic. With someone who is not genuine in their approach will turn off a client with a quickness and the focus and work put forth to their mental health will be wasted because the client wont be able to feel they can truly convey their emotions and feeling s to the therapist.
I feel Rogerian therapy is very helpful for these patients because his approach to therapy is very down to earth, he sees patients as human being s that have genuine need for acceptance and recognition, and he sees them as people with potential and not just neurotic or psychotic. His approach speaks form a stand point that therapist have to be genuine in their practice and the patient has to feel that and then the client-patient relationship can develop and once that develops, the progress of the patient’s self-actualization can develop. Congruence in therapy include awareness, feeling, and expression when incongruence occurs, the awareness and feeling is stifled and the expression is hard to express for lack of positive regard and empathy from the counselor.
I feel the hindering of treatment would be from the lack of positive regard and empathy towards certain clients, like a sex offender or any other patient that can be difficult to handle. The difficulty can lead to personal bias, frustration, and annoyance. If someone is feeling empathy but not positive self regard in the sense that their feelings and motives aren’t genuine the client will feel that. If the relationship is rocky in anyway then the progress wont be there. If I personally had a sex offender as a client, from personal issues of my own, it would be difficult to have empathy for that patient. I would have to excuse myself from treatment and find another therapist to assist them.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2008). Theories of Personality, 7th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/books/007-7376714/id/pg323