Carl Rogers – Biography and his Theory

I am convinced, a life for the faint-fainthearted

Who was Carl Rogers?

Biography and its legacy
Carl Ransom Rogers was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1902. His family was deeply religious with a Protestant belief. Carl Rogers had five brothers, during his childhood, he grew up in a strict religious atmosphere, with a high sense of ethics, he also had a very lonely upbringing.
He studied agriculture at the University of Wisconsin but wanted to change his life after attending a religious conference, entering the Theological Seminary to study theology.
Carl Rogers served in high school, was one of the best students in his class and represented his country in a congress of the world Christian federation in China. In this congress, He gave talks about religion.

He traveled throughout western China expressing his ideas and standing out as one of the best exponents. During this six-month experience, Carl was impressed with the cultural difference that exists and the different forms of life, changing his thinking and breaking the hard-religious doctrine of his parents.

After this experience, Carl Rogers decides to study clinical psychology in Columbia, obtaining a doctorate in 1928 and a doctorate in philosophy in 1931.

His life had a radical change in the year 1940, Carl decided to teach psychology at Ohio State University. During this experience, Carl Rogers decides to develop his ideas about psychotherapy.

After his time at the Ohio State University, he decided to change to the University of Chicago in 1945, continued with his chair of psychology and directed a special counseling center. It was during this time of his life that he wrote his most important books such as: “Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications, and theory”. During these years he also began to elaborate his personality theory.

He held a position as a member of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in 1964, in California. During this year he was a founding member of the study center for the person.

In 1956 he received the award as a “distinguished scientific contribution” and in 1968 he received the award as a professional performance of the American psychological association.

Carl Rogers died on February 4, 1987, in La Jolla, California. He was the central figure of the current humanistic psychology for more than four decades in the United States and Mexico.

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change

Development of the Personality

Certain currents of psychology have been associated with a pessimistic view of the human being. For example, the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud presents an explanation of the psyche in which unconscious desires and their clash with social norms govern our behavior, and American behaviorism has been accused of presenting people like machines that react to external stimuli.

Humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers emerged as a kind of contrast or alternating current to what was handled up to that point, this is how they proposed some ideas about mental processes in which the center is the freedom of individuals at the time of Taking the course of their lives.

For the psychologists of the humanist current, the factors of biology or the environment are determinants in behavior and do not inevitably bring the individual towards certain types of behavior. That is, they were not decisive.

Carl Rogers based on his studies argued strongly that the personality of each person developed according to how he manages to get closer to (or away from) his vital goals, his goals.

The idea that self-development and how people struggle to reach and achieve their ideals and goals are the basis of humanistic psychology, to all this, Carl Rogers added that personal development is the way by which the character and personality of the individual are forged. (1)

Carla Rogers Books

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The Principles for Good Life

Achieving happiness is the goal of the human being, but the concept of happiness is relative for each person, Carl Rogers based on his humanistic ideals elaborated a series of principles from which he considered that a good life could be built, I call them: Principles for the good life, consist of 7 objectives that the individual must follow and fulfill, and this will guarantee a good life, this is not a recipe for happiness, but they are common aspects of fully functional people, Rogers studied the common aspects in these people and that’s how he found his principles.

  1. Acceptance of all experiences, including new ones.
  2. An existential lifestyle, in which every moment is appreciated and lived to the fullest.
  3. A level of confidence with the decisions themselves.
  4. Increased freedom of choice
  5. Creativity and adaptability without necessarily conforming.
  6. Reliability and constructively in their dealings with others.
  7. Preference for living a rich and full life.


Carl Rogers considered that human beings maintain a basic principle, which is the tendency to self-actualization. They can grow and reach their full potential if the conditions are correct, but they are limited by environmental conditions.

The potential of the human individual is unique and is destined to develop in different ways depending on the personality.

Rogers postulated that for a person to achieve self-actualization, he must remain in a state of congruence. This means that self-actualization occurs when the person’s “ideal self” (who would like to become) is congruent with their real behaviors.

The main determinant of whether we will become updated people or not is childhood experiences.

Carl Rogers Congruent self image

Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers  Self-Actualization

The fully functional person

When an individual achieved self-actualization, he became a fully functional person, all people can achieve all their goals and objectives, self-actualization represents constant growth and change. (2)

Unconditional Positive Regard

It is a therapeutic modality that considers that a positive relationship between therapist and patient is a vital part of an effective treatment (it differs from more mechanical and rigid approaches such as psychoanalysis). Rogers developed his client-centered therapeutic approach popularized that term in 1956 when he established four psychotherapist competencies:

  • Empathy
  • Unconditional positive consideration
  • Congruence
  • Attitude towards the technique.

Rogers’ humanist vision made him consider that acceptance and genuine and unconditional interest in the patient allowed a freer context at the time of therapy, favoring trust, he noted that through empathy, clients were more communicative and receptive, to Unlike the atmosphere of tension created in the sessions where the client was approached with direct questions.

Carl’s Rogers Quotes

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good. . . . When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions which seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.[/perfectpullquote]

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]People only seriously consider change when they feel accepted for exactly who they are.[/perfectpullquote]

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?[/perfectpullquote]

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In a person who is open to experience each stimulus is freely relayed through the nervous system, without being distorted by any process of defensiveness.[/perfectpullquote]

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When the other person is hurting, confused, troubled, anxious, alienated, terrified; or when he or she is doubtful of self-worth, uncertain as to identity, then understanding is called for. The gentle and sensitive companionship of an empathic stance… provides illumination and healing. In such situations deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.[/perfectpullquote]


  3. Image and quote: BAPCA 2015

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