Carl Rogers, the man who can hear

Meeting Carl Rogers is the turning point of my whole life. There is no other event in it that so strongly and clearly influenced my personal and professional destiny. In the autumn of 1986, together with 40 colleagues, I took part in an intensive communication group, which was conducted in Moscow by the leading representative of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers. The seminar lasted several days, but it changed me, my ideas, attachments, attitudes. He worked with the group and at the same time was with me, heard and saw me, gave me a chance to be myself.

Carl Rogers believed that every person deserves attention, respect and acceptance. These principles of Rogers became the basis of his therapy, his “person-centered approach” in general. For his work based on these seemingly extremely simple ideas, Carl Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. The news of this came to him when he was in a death coma.

The greatest human merit of Carl Rogers, in my opinion, lies in the fact that he was able to do with his personality the complex inner work of becoming homo humanus – a humane person. Thus, he opened to many people the “laboratory of humanism”, through which everyone who seeks to establish first in himself, and then in the relationships of other people pax humana – the humane world passes.

His dates

  • 1902: Born in suburban Chicago.
  • 1924-1931: Agricultural, theological education, then – M.S., Ph.D. in psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • 1931: Clinical psychologist at the Children’s Help Center (Rochester).
  • 1940-1957: Professor at Ohio State University, then at the University of Chicago.
  • 1946-1947: President of the American Psychological Association.
  • 1956-1958: President of the American Academy of Psychotherapists.
  • 1961: One of the founders of the American Association for Humanistic Psychology.
  • 1968: Opens the Center for the Study of Man in La Jolla, California. 1969: His documentary Journey into Self, about the work of a psychotherapy group, wins an Oscar.
  • 1986: Conducts intensive communication groups with psychologists in Moscow and Tbilisi.
  • February 14, 1987: died in La Jolla, California.

Five keys to understanding:

Everyone has potential

“All people have the ability to build their lives in such a way that it gives them personal satisfaction and at the same time is constructive in social terms.” People tend to develop in a positive direction. This does not mean that it will be so, but everyone is born with such potential. As a child, Rogers observed a lot of natural life, in particular, the development of butterflies. Perhaps, thanks to reflections on their transformation, his hypothesis about human potential was born, later supported by psychotherapeutic practice and scientific research.

listen to hear

“It doesn’t matter how deep or superficial what a person is talking about, I listen to him with all the attention, diligence, which I am capable of.” We talk a lot, but we don’t listen or hear each other. But the feeling of one’s value, significance arises in response to the attention of another person to us. When we are heard, barriers are removed – cultural, religious, racial; there is a meeting of man with man.

Understand the other person

“My main discovery I would formulate as follows: I realized the enormous value of allowing myself to understand another person.” The first reaction to people is the desire to evaluate them. Very rarely do we allow ourselves to understand what the words, feelings, beliefs of another person mean for him. But it is precisely this attitude that helps another to accept himself and his feelings, changes us ourselves, revealing something that had previously eluded us. This is also true in the psychotherapeutic relationship: it is not the special psychological techniques that are decisive, but the positive acceptance, nonjudgmental empathy and genuine self-expression of the therapist and his client.

Openness is a prerequisite for relationships

“From my experience with others, I have concluded that in a long-term relationship there is no point in pretending to be someone I am not.” It makes no sense to pretend that you love if you are hostile, to seem calm if you are irritated and critical. Relationships become authentic, full of life and meaning when we listen to ourselves, are open to ourselves and, therefore, to a partner. The quality of human relationships depends on our ability to see who we are, to accept ourselves, not hiding behind a mask – from ourselves and others.

Help others get better

Creating an atmosphere in which you can openly express yourself, your feelings, that is, favorable for human development, is a task not only for psychologists. It should be served by all those who know social professions, it should be promoted by personal, family, professional – in a word, any human relationship. Each of us can help improve the other person in accordance with his own intentions and goals.

Books and articles by Carl Rogers:

  • A look at psychotherapy. The Formation of Man” (Progress, Univers, 1994);
  • “Counseling and psychotherapy” (Eksmo, 2000);
  • “Freedom to Learn” (Sense, 2002);
  • “Client-centered approach in psychotherapy” (Questions of Psychology, 2001, No. 2).

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