Carl R. Rogers Essay

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Carl R. Rogers was an American psychologist, psychotherapist, and the acknowledged father of humanist psychology, which he named both client centered and later person-centered psychotherapy. Rogers developed his theories of psychotherapy as a professor at a series of universities that included Ohio State, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin before joining the staff at the Western Behavioral Studies Institute and later founding his Center for Studies of the Person in La Jolla, California.

Professor Rogers’s ideas centered on the client or person and developed from his travels and experiences in China, the seminary, and the study of children at Columbia Teachers College. In On Becoming a Person (1961), Rogers detailed how he abandoned preconceived categories to interpret human behaviors in favor of listening to the client by establishing an accepting, empathetic relationship to gain insight that would enable the person to reshape his or her life and reduce the deployment of defense mechanisms, particularly distortion and denial. Rogers was frequently criticized for his failure to analyze and diagnose. Rogers’s ideas were built on the earlier theories of Abraham Maslow in encouraging individuals to seek a positive direction, achieve self-actualization, gain maturity, and become more socialized.

Rogers was the founder of the American Association for Applied Psychology and the American Academy of Psychotherapists, and also the president of the American Psychological Association. His writings include Client-Centered Therapy (1951), Person to Person: The Problem of Being Human (1967), Freedom to Learn (1969), and Carl Rogers on Personal Power (1977).


  1. Demorest, A. (2005). Psychology’s grand theorists. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  2. Nye, R. D. (1996). Three psychologies: Perspectives from Freud, Skinner, and Rogers. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  3. Thorne, B. (2003). Carl Rogers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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