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Effective Helping Relationships >> Carl R Rogers
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Effective Helping Relationships

  • Core Individual and Group Therapy Skills
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Thai Summary

The quality of the relationship between the practitioner and the client, patient, or student is the single most important factor in facilitating personal growth and development, learning or the forward movement away from maladjustment toward greater well-being.

Psychotherapy, counseling and other helping professions offer many methods and approaches to help individuals heal, grow and learn, so that they can lead personally effective and meaningful lives. Teachers, doctors, spiritual advisors, and social workers are some examples of professional roles where there are opportunities to facilitate the well being of others. Global Effectiveness Training* (GET) offers practitioners in all the helping professions an opportunity to learn about and experience the essence of being in a relationship that effectively facilitates meaningful change in an individual.

Research in the past several years has demonstrated that across all the various approaches to psychotherapy, teaching, healing, and counseling there are two elements that are consistently present in relationships that effectively bring about meaningful change. One is the client's, patient's or student's own motivation. The second is the presence of a person who can offer a relationship that includes acceptance, respect, warmth, empathy and genuineness.



Carl R. Rogers (1902-1987)

Over fifty years ago the renowned and pioneering American psychologist, Carl R. Rogers, published the profound and groundbreaking book Counseling and Psychotherapy that described what he termed "client-centered therapy". In it he offered the startling insight, influenced by Otto Rank, that a relationship between client (patient) and therapist characterized by what he called the "core conditions" was the essence of the healing or growth experience. He demonstrated through enormous amounts of research that therapy works when:

  • Clients are free to determine their own agenda for their life and therapy and to describe their own subjective experience in their own way.
  • They are in a relationship with someone who has faith in them, listens empathetically and accurately for the deeper meanings of what they are communicating, and who deals with them honestly without roles or manipulation.
  • The relationship is as egalitarian as possible without a "power-over" authoritarian posture.

In 1961 Rogers published On Becoming a Person. (Recently the Los Angeles Times identified it as one of the 100 most influential books of the twentieth century.) He began to describe the work he did as the "person-centered approach" (PCA). The American Psychological Association (APA) presented Rogers with its two most prestigious scientific awards.Recently the member of the APA voted Rogers the most influential psychotherapist of the twentieth century. A documentary film about his PCA work with small "encounter" groups won an academy award.

Rogers applied the core principals of PCA to work with various types of groups and organizations. His book Freedom to Learn set the stage for what is know today as "student-centered learning." His cross-cultural and conflict resolution work in Eastern Europe, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Central America earned him a Noble Peace Prize nomination.


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CORE CONDITIONS of the PERSON-CENTERED APPROACH (PCA)

Global Effectiveness Training (GET) offers relationship skills training for the helping professional based on the principals and practice of the Person-Centered Approach (PCA) developed by the world renowned and pioneering American psychologist Carl R. Rogers.

The principals and practice laid out by Rogers seem simple. They are subtle. It is certainly not high tech or flashy. It isn't easy, either. Today psychotherapy, pedagogy and the various helping and healing arts generally don't appreciate - or fully understand - Rogers' "necessary and sufficient core conditions" for individual growth and change. It's not unusual to hear, "It's too simple and too bland to work with very many people."

However, the strongest scientific evidence to date continues to demonstrate that therapeutic success is not based on new techniques, nor on levels of training. Overall success does not result from proper diagnosis or new drugs. Rather, success can be predicted by two variables. The first is the client's, student's or patient's own motivation to employee their inner resources for change. The second has to do with the quality and characteristics of the helping relationship. The same core conditions and principals articulated by Rogers over fifty years ago hold true today. Its no wonder that the Journal of Counseling Psychology ranked his work as number one in terms durable influence in the field counseling psychology.

Simply put, there are two fundamental principals in PCA. One is that within each human being is the potential and tendency to develop in a positive manner. The second principal has to do with the characteristics of a relationship that facilitates the tendency for humans to grow toward becoming fully functioning.

Rogers described three characteristics that in his research he found to be present in relationships where individuals had actually become more fully functioning. He came to believe that those three qualities or characteristics were actually "necessary" to effectively facilitate change. He also concluded that they were "sufficient" and enough. The three core conditions as articulated by Rogers are:

Empathic understanding - To sense the other's private world as if it where your own, without ever losing the 'as if' quality. Rogers thought it was essential for the person to feel deeply understood. To do that meant going 'inside' the other person's frame of reference to get a real sense of what the person's experiences felt like. And then to be able to communicate that knowing and understanding back to the other person deeply and accurately.

Congruency - To be freely and deeply yourself within the relationship, your actual experience accurately represented by your own self-awareness and what you actually are in this moment of time. Rogers believed that being authentic - not playing a role or being phony - was an essential part of the equation. He thought that the therapist needed a very high degree of self-knowledge in order to maintain a consistent degree of personal transparency.

Unconditional positive regard - To find yourself experiencing a warm acceptance of each aspect of the other person's experience as a real part of that person. Rogers was describing an unconditional warmth, a momentary setting aside of judgement to promote an atmosphere of trust and openness.

Today these core conditions have become axioms or 'truths' in psychotherapy and are embedded as "common sense" in almost all the helping disciplines. The fact that these core conditions are taken for granted means that they receive little attention, formal or other wise. In today's world of high-tech solutions, these simple - and subtle _ principals seem to attract little notice. However, an exploration of, or revisit to, these necessary essentials is both instructional and personally inspiring.

* Global Effectiveness Training is not affiliated with Thomas Gordon's Effectiveness Training Programs.


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