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Carl Rogers person centered theory

Updated on May 9, 2013

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers was born in Illinois in the United States in 1902. When Rogers was only a child he was encouraged to breed farm animals. He supported that by learning how to do this successfully, had lead him into the world of science as well as that of scientific method. This then had influenced his approach to psychology.

After he finished his studies on agriculture he decided to sign up in a seminar to study religion. However the religion course made him become rather dellusioned so he chose to study psychology at Columbia University Teacher’s College instead.

Rogers got married while he was still studying psychology and got a job before he finished his Phd, to support his family. He worked for 12 years for the American equivalent of the National Society for the Prevention of cruelty to children (NSPPC). In 1931 he published the book “Measuring Personality Adjustment in Children” and in 1939 “The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child”.

Thus, Rogers developed his approach to personality and treatment in the 40s-50s. He believed that a person could gain better insight of their ability to change, even with brief exposure to this model of treatment. This model was the client-centered therapy, later known as Person-centered therapy (PCT).

Self and self concept

As a therapist who respected his clients, Rogers treated them as individual subjects and not objects. He held the belief that every individual has a great ability for personal growth and should seek their inner strength to do so. Additionally, PCT supports that a person could be encouraged by his or her therapist to find this inner strength.

In his Person centered theory Rogers makes a distinction regarding the self and the self concept. He defines the self as the individuals true self whereas the self concept as what individuals perceive their selves to be (i.e. who they think they are). Moreover person-centered therapy begins and also ends with experiencing, whereas its aim is to fulfill two needs. The first is self actualization and the second is the need to be loved as well as valued by others. In order to do this PCT encourages individuals to move in the direction of their own self defined ideals and beliefs.

Carl Rogers counselling

PCT: Effective with individuals going through life transitions

According to McLeod (2006) Roger's approach to therapy has shown to be more effective with people who are going through life transitions, such as adulthood. Rogers said that “the greatest problem which man faces in the years to come…is the question of how much change the human being can accept, absorb and assimilate, and the rate at which he can take it” (1968a; Mcleod, 2006, pg 205). Therefore the person-centered theory and method has been adjusted to the needs of individuals in a changing world.

Carl Rogers at the evolution of psychotherapy conference in 1985


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    • Chris Achilleos profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Achilleos 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for your comments :)

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      7 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great presentation of a theraputic model used today. These videos support the presentation well. Great job.


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