Carl Rogers’ Mechanisms of Action of the Therapeutic Relationship

What is therapeutic about therapy? It seems to have a lot to do with the kind of relationship that the therapist and client create. This is Carl Rogers’ version of what happens in an ideal therapeutic relationship, quoted from Yalom’s Group Psychotherapy (p. 62). If you want to see footage of Rogers trying to create this relationship, I posted clips here.

1) The client is increasingly free in expressing his feelings.

2) He begins to test reality and to become more discriminatory in his feelings and perceptions of his environment, his self, other persons, and his experiences.

3) He increasingly becomes aware of the incongruity between his experiences and his concept of self.

4) He also becomes aware of feelings that have been previously denied or distorted in awareness.

5) His concept of self, which now includes previously distorted or denied aspects, becomes more congruent with his experience.

6) His becomes increasingly able to experience, without threat, the therapist’s unconditional positive regard and to feel an unconditional positive self-regard.

7) He increasingly experiences himself as the focus of evaluation of the nature and worth of an object or experience.

8) He reacts to experience less in terms of his perception of others’ evaluation of him and more in terms of its effectiveness in enhancing his own development.

[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, May 29, 2010.]

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Three Approaches to Psychotherapy: A Film Series

[Reblogged from Nathen’s Miraculous Escape]

Posting about Albert Ellis yesterday reminded me of this cool film series made in 1965 calledThree Approaches to Psychotherapy. It shows three very famous therapists talking with the same client, named Gloria. First is Carl Rogers doing his non-directive Person Centered Therapy. Next is Fritz Perls doing his demanding-total-authenticity Gestalt therapy. (This was developed with his wife, Laura, making it the only one having significant female authorship.) Last is Albert Ellis doing his the-way-you-are-thinking-about-things-makes-you-unhappy Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

I don’t know how much of the following is true, but this is what I’ve heard: Part of the deal in making this film was that Gloria could choose a therapist based on her very short sessions with each of them. She chose Fritz Perls. Later, she struck up a friendship with Carl Rogers that lasted the rest of her short life. She died in her 50s.

Recent research on what makes therapy effective suggests that the style of therapy you use is not a major factor. It seems to do more with the quality of the relationship between the client and the therapist and how much the client believes the therapy will help. In light of that it’s striking how different these approaches are. You will see what I mean.

Each therapist’s section is about 30 minutes. Each therapist presents his basic theory, talks with Gloria for a bit, and then talks about what he thinks he just did. Rogers’ is broken up into several clips–that’s the only way I could find it. Perls’ and Ellis’s videos are each in one piece, and from Google video instead of YouTube, so they take longer to load. You might let each of the longer clips run through before watching it to avoid it breaking up if you have a slow connection like I do.