Child Development Theories: Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers was an American psychologist and one of the founders of the humanistic, person-centred approach. He is also considered to be a pioneer of psychotherapy research. The person-centred approach, based on Roger’s theory of self, has found wide application in multiple domains, including education, psychotherapy and counselling.
Carl Roger’s Theory of Self
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was an American psychologist and one of the founders of the humanistic, person-centred approach, as well as a pioneer of psychotherapy research. The person-centred approach, based on Roger’s theory of self – his own method of understanding personality and human relationships – has found wide application in multiple domains, including psychotherapy and counselling (client-centred therapies), education (student-centred learning methods), organisations, and many other group settings.
Rogers believed everyone possesses an innate need to grow and develop their full potential. He considered this drive to achieve self-actualisation to be one of the primary forces influencing behaviour.
Unconditional Positive Regard
To create the conditions for psychotherapy to be successful, Rogers believed it was essential to offer any client unconditional positive regard. This means continuing to provide non-judgemental support in all circumstances, no matter what the client feels, does, or experiences. An individual must be accepted as they are, so they can express positive and/or negative feelings without judgement or fear of reproach.
Development of the Self
The formation of a healthy self-concept, Rogers believed, was a continuing process moulded by an individual’s life experiences. Those who possess a stable sense of self tend to be more confident and cope with challenge more effectively.
According to Rogers, self-concept starts to develop during childhood and is primarily influenced by parenting styles. Those parents who provide unconditional love and regard are more likely to nurture children with a healthy self-concept. However, a child who feels they have to “earn” their parents love may acquire low self-esteem and develop feelings of unworthiness.
Rogers also maintained that individuals tend to hold a concept of their “ideal self.” But if our self-image does not align with our ideal self, then we are actually in a state of incongruence. However, provided they receive unconditional positive regard and pursue self-actualising goals, people can generally move closer to achieving a state of congruence.
The Fully-Functioning Person
Rogers suggested that a fully-functioning person is one who is fully congruent and living in the moment. As with other components of his theory, unconditional positive regard plays a key role in the development of full functionality. Individuals who receive loving, non-judgemental support have the best chance of developing the self-esteem and confidence required to live to their full potential.