The core aspects of developing a therapeutic alliance with your psychologist or therapist involves a set of factors developed by Carl Rogers. Carl Rogers is the father of person-centered psychotherapy, a therapy that focuses on accepting people as unique and diverse individuals. It focuses on core principles that makes a therapist effective in person-centered psychotherapy.
Rogers states these three techniques to be the most effective aspects of developing a therapeutic relationship:
The first, empathy is required for the therapist to understand the client’s subjective phenomenological experience.
Second, unconditional positive regard helps to create a safe, warm, tolerant, and accepting environment in the treatment setting.
Third, congruence requires the therapist to remain genuine, open, and honest throughout all therapeutic interactions
“Listening to not only the words but the meaning of an individual is about trying to understand the person that is hidden within all of us.” – Carl Rogers
Trusting Your Therapist
Trusting the therapeutic process can be daunting – to say the least. There are moments when memories come flooding in and you’re overwhelmed by the experiences of the past. Shame from one’s childhood can make opening up about your family parallel to a crucifixion. However, with a therapist who is trust worthy developing a relationship that is secure and oriented towards continual growth should feel, well, good. A therapist who puts you at the center of treatment uses their skills to establish a relationship first and foremost. So, what makes a client-centered therapist?
Unconditional Positive Regard
Unconditional Positive Regard is offered in a social setting where judgement is paced on the back burner and an individual is accepted no matter what they do or say. In client-centered therapy, the therapist must offer the client unconditional positive regard.
For instance, in his therapy, Rogers distinguishes between unconditional positive regard and conditional positive regard. People who are offered unconditional positive regard experience the sensation of acceptance no matter what, instilling the person with the confidence needed to experiment with an identity or integration of self which feels safe to them. Meanwhile, conditional positive regard focuses on associations of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behavior without taking into the consideration the therapeutic process.
People who experience unconditional positive regard, especially from their parents while they are growing up, are more likely to self-actualize.
According to Rogers, people have a distinct concept of their ideal self, in which, they want to experience consistently. However, when the ideal self does not match how the person feels about themselves – then an incongruence of self takes place. While everyone experiences a certain degree of incongruence, from time to time, the ideal self and self-image have a large overlap in how they’re developed throughout our lifetime.
Rogers explains that a therapist who can embody the path of congruence, which involves the act of unconditional positive regard, will help a client reach a state of self-actualization.
Reaching Your Ideal Self
Rogers explains that reaching your ideal self, is a state in which a person has achieved a state of self-actualization. The self-actualized person has developed these seven traits:
- Openness to experience
- Living in the moment
- Trust in one’s feelings and instincts
- Self-direction and the ability to make independent choices
- Creativity and malleability
- Feeling fulfilled and satisfied by life
Fully functioning people have had the ability to compartmentalize their experiences with fully integrated senses of self in various different apparatuses. For instance, a person can segment their relationships with others in the arenas of the personal, social and professional while maintaining a sense of congruency.
When working with a therapist, person-centered therapy is an approach that allows the individual to integrate personal experiences from the past while achieving their life goals. It is a forgoing of experiencing genuine connection and healing abandonment wounds.