In the 1940s and 1950s a radical and revolutionary new philosophy in the field of counseling psychology came out. This new philosophy was so radical because it was so different from the various kinds of therapy that came before it. It did not focus on sexual impulses and drives as Freudian psychology did. Nor did it place an exaggerated emphasis on human physiology and action as behavioral psychology did. It was so different because it focused primarily on the patients themselves and how they perceived the world. This radical new philosophy is called Rogerian Therapy after its creator Carl Rogers.
Rogerian therapy is also known by many other names such as client centered therapy, Rogerian Psychotherapy, and person centered therapy. No matter what it is called it emphasizes one thing: the client/person. Carl Rogers was a humanist and believed in the overall good nature of mankind. He believed that a client could change or improve without being taught anything specific from himself or any therapist. Although, in order for this process to take place a therapist must show empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. It is the therapist obligation to create an environment that promotes growth by showing understanding (empathy), being completely upfront and genuine with the client at any time (congruence), and creating a positive relationship with the client (positive regard). Creating a relationship was perhaps the most important of these tasks. The therapist must demonstrate that he cares for his client and accepts the patient and his flaws under any circumstance.
A session with Rogers, or a Rogerian therapist, would have been very different from sessions with psychologists in most of the existing fields of the day. Carl Rogers was one of the first psychologists to record his sessions with patients. Rogers would rarely talk during a session. Rogerian therapy is also known as “Talk Therapy” because of how much the clients talk. Rogers would typically only talk to reinforce a statement that the client made or to pose a question based on the things that the client had said. Rogers would not try to delve into the clients unconscious as Freud would have done; Rogers would have tried to get a glance into the clients perceived world. He would try to ascertain how the client perceived the world around him. Rogers would not refute any statement the client made, nor would he point out the flaws of the client. Rogers would carefully structure questions in a way that would re-word the clients thoughts to force the client to think and answer the question himself. By doing this, Rogers made it possible for clients to find the answers to their own problems rather than getting answers from the therapist or an outside source.
Of course, like any theory, Rogerian Therapy is not perfect and can not effectively treat all mental illnesses. With severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, Rogerian Therapy yielded little help or improvement. However, through Rogers belief that the most important part of a therapy session is the client and his systematic study of people gave Rogers great insight and allowed him to help a multitude of people. Rogers was able to do so by allowing clients to find their own way and derive the answers to their problems.