Rogers identifies three core conditions. Describe and analyse each condition and explain its contribution in creating and developing an effective relationship.
This essay will look at the three core conditions identified by Carl Rogers. They are Empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard. He first identified these in the 50s. They went on to become the main focus on which a good therapeutic relationship between counsellor and client could be built. The name of the therapy that uses them is known as person centred or client centred. This will also be looked at in the essay along with the application of them to a work setting, which in this case will be a residential children’s home.
Carl Rogers believes that a truthful and therapeutic relationship between a counsellor and their client will depend on the three core conditions that he believes are within the counsellor as a person and that all individuals possess these but not everyone is able to use them adequately. They are congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy. He believes that not only should the counsellor be able to demonstrate the above in their relationship with the client but that The counsellor also needs to be able to be open and in tune with their own feelings in order for them to be able to support the client using the above conditions.
Congruence or genuiness means that the counsellor has the ability to be real with the client this means that they do not feel the need to hide behind their professional role and that they can interact with the client better as they are being themselves within the interaction. In many respect it could be said that the counsellor is transparent as the client is able to see what is on the inside of the counsellor as well as the outside (the professional). They will be open and honest with the client even if the client behaves in a manner that is difficult or of concern to the counsellor. This means that the client will see that the counsellor is there to support them genuinely and that they can then build a relationship with the counsellor based on honesty and trust.
Unconditional positive regard means that the counsellor is able to show respect towards their client despite what the client might have done, or what problems they come to you with this will be the case even if the counsellors own values and beliefs are different to the clients. The counsellor will treat the client as an individual, they will be non -judgemental and accept that the client has the right to be accepted for what they are. By respecting the individuality of the client the counsellor is showing them that despite whatever they may see as being wrong in their lives that they are worthy of respect and understanding from others.
A counsellor who is able to be empathic will be able to experience the situation with the client, although it does not mean that the counsellor will sympathise with the client, as this is something totally different .if a counsellor sympathises they show pity, compassion or possibly tenderness towards the client. A counsellor who is empathic will be able to display understanding of the client in the deepest possible way, if necessary the counsellor will be able to put their self in the shoes of the client and see things the way that the client sees them. The counsellor will also need to be able to reflect back this understanding to the client.
Carl Rogers developed person centred therapy in the 40’s and 50’s it is a non directive form of therapy which allows the client to remain in control of the content of the sessions and also the pace at which they move on1. It means that the counsellor is not directing them or evaluating them in any way. The main thinking behind person centred therapy is that people will move towards personal growth and healing on a deep level, it helps them to find their own answers to their problems rather than depending on others to solve them for them as is done in some other therapies.
The core conditions form a great part of this therapy as by them retaining the control they can start to develop self worth, as despite what the may tell the counsellor about what they are experiencing they will not be judged, but accepted for who they are as an individual. This form of therapy is supported by the humanistic school of though as they believe that in order to gain personal growth we have to take responsibility for our own lives, and that in order to do this we may need to confront difficult personal situations that are stopping us from moving on and developing self worth and competence within our lives.
This form of therapy will not be suitable for all clients as they may have different needs, the form of therapy that would be used then would be Psychodynamic. This in total contrast to person centred therapy. This form of theapy will try to discover for you what has gone wrong and will encourage you to face them. It is the role of the therapist to develop a relationship that allows them to discover what is going on in your unconscious mind, and why it is too painful for you to face it ultimately they will encourage you to face it in a manner and time frame totally different to the way that it would be done by a therapist who uses person centred therapy.
Person centred therapy in itself may sound simple as it is limited to showing the core conditions and then allowing the client to develop the structure as they go along. But it is actually a very complicated process, as people have to unravel the layers of their own lives to look deeper within themselves for the answers to the questions they have. And as they go along they will discover new things about themselves, as well as taking brave and also sometimes worrying steps into the unknown. They will do this order to make the move on to the next level as and when is appropriate for them.
The core conditions as Rogers explains them are genuinely something that most people use in their day to day life to a certain extent, and are particularly used in certain jobs such as the care professions .The residential children’s care sector is one such group. The young people who live in residential homes are there for a number of reasons ranging from family breakdown, family’s not being able to cope, too the children having been in trouble with the law. Each of these young people will bring along with them their own problems. And also their perception of the world and what it owes them. It is the place of the residential social worker to support the young person during not only the initial period when the child arrives but through their entire time at the home. That’s not to say that they are there to solve their problems for them.
On a daily basis the staff will be using these skills at most times when dealing with the young people but there will be time’s a particular one will need to be used more than the others. An example of this would be when a child is distressed as their contact with family has been cancelled. The child will generally become very angry towards staff and blame them for it being cancelled.
What staff have to remember is that the child is feeling let down and hurt, and that they lash out at staff, as they feel safe in their relationship with them. The skill that the staff would be using In this instance would be empathy as the would need to be able to put themselves into the shoes of the young person and try and experience their upset from their point of view, in that they possibly feel rejected and or hurt. Also that they do not know how to handle those feelings. It will also be the role of the residential social worker to support the young person over time as they explore these feelings and what they mean for them.
An instance where unconditional positive regard would be the main value involved would be possibly that a young person does not show much interest in their personal hygiene due to their involvement in recreational drugs. Despite the fact that the residential social worker might not agree with the taking of such substances and their effects it will not be their place to judge that young person. Firstly because they are using drugs and secondly that their personal hygiene is not of a standard that they might personally believe in. What the residential social worker would do in this instance would be to accept the young person for what and who they are, and support them during this time. The young person may or may not explore why they take drugs at this time or they may chose to look at the issue around hygiene they will do this knowing that fact that they take drugs take is not an issue for the care workers, and that they are not being judged as a person for doing so, where as it might have been an issue for their parents. This could then have lead to conflict between the young person and their parents.
Being able to display congruence has its limits to a certain degree for the residential social worker, as there are certain things that they have to adbide by in order to protect the health and safty of both the young people and themselves. In order to be fully transparent you would need to be able to revel things about your self that may have happened to you in order for the young person to know that you are genuinely supporting them in certain issues, It could be that you have taken drugs or still are and therefor have a true understanding of what there are experiencing.
But due to the nature of the work you could not revel this information as it would be deemed that you could be having an influence on the young person and their decision’s, especially if due to the other core conditions you had been able to build a fairly good relationship, based on trust and acceptance. It could also have an effect on the way in which the young person then perceives you. They may no longer see you as a professional and as somebody who ultimately is there to do a job of protecting them. This is then where issues around health and safety would come into it. They could ask you to become involved in getting drugs for them or to use them with them .To do such a thing would break all the rules surrounding ethics and boundaries that need to be maintained.
Although one extreme has been looked at its not to say that as residential social workers you are superior to the young people, but in many ways you are their equals and although you are there to protect them it has to be remembered that they are individuals who deserve the right to be told the truth, and that they will not be looked down upon due to the fact that they are in care. And that the way in which they are treated on a daily basis is the way in which all individuals want to be treated that is with, honesty, trust, warmth and acceptance.
In conclusion it has to be said that the core conditions Carl Rogers developed much of his work around has been used and adapted by many professions in numerous fields of work over the years in order to forge better working relationships between professional and clients .The way in which they are used will vary depending on the situations involved such as the ones mentioned throughout this essay. How they work for an individual in a counselling situation will depend upon their self -concept as they may have a low self- concept due to experiences from their childhood that have had a long standing effect on them2. It will also depend on how ready they are as an individual to take to necessary steps to face and make decisions about their future.
The conditions can be adapted to fit any situation and are something that as individuals we all possess, but we need to learn to tap into these resources and to use them to understand ourselves and others better. Carl Rogers says that in order for the counsellor who uses person centred therapy to be effective they need to hold certain philosophical beliefs and attitudes toward individuals that ensure that the worth, dignity and identity of the individual is maintained.3This is something that we can all strive to achieve both in our professional and private lives in order to build better relationships with those that we work with, family and friends and people we come across on a daily basis.
Author title edition publisher’s year of
Egan g. The skilled helper. 7th Thomson learning, Inc 2002
Hough m. A practical approach 2nd Pearson education lmd 2002
Rogers c. On becoming 26th St Edmundsey press 2002