Carl Rogers biography, quotes and theory

Carl Rogers - Toolshero

Carl Rogers (Carl Ransom Rogers; 8 January 1902 – 4 February 1987) is an American psychologist and author, and he is one of the originators of the humanistic approach to psychology and Person-Centered Therapy (PCT). Additionally, Carl Rogers is considered to be one of the pioneers of psychotherapy research theory. He researched if human beings know themselves thoroughly and if they trust in the intrinsic value of their own experiences.

Who is Carel Rogers? His biography

Carl Rogers was born in Chicago where he lived together with his parents and his brothers and sisters. His parents were strict Protestants, and for this reason, he grew up religiously. The family lived on a farm on which they had a close relationship together.

Carl Rogers loved his family and rather spent time with his brothers than with his friends. He was, for this reason, isolated and independent at an early age. Carl Rogers additionally likes reading, and he was highly interested in scientific agriculture.

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Despite his interests in agriculture, his interest shifted more to religion. Carl Rogers later majored in History at the University of Wisconsin 1924.

During this study period, he joined an international Christian Conference with whom he joined an expedition to China. The expedition inspired him to follow a less strict way of Christianity.

While Carl Rogers continued his study, he simultaneously married Helen Elliot in 1924. He was like many others identifying his career path. He next decided to enroll to the Union Theological Seminary, also in 1924.

While Carl Rogers worked on his career, he simultaneously starts creating his own family. The couple’s first child David was born in 1926, and their daughter was born in 1928. Unfortunately, he dropped out of the Union Theological Seminary.

In 1927, Carl Rogers decided to follow a master in psychology at Columbia University in New York. Fortunately, he liked the program and later also obtained a Ph.D. in clinical psychology under Goodwin Watson at Columbia University in 1931. His study on clinical psychology made him specialize in psychological tests.

From 1928, Carl Rogers additionally worked next to his study as a child psychologist at the Child Study Department of the Rochester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

During this period, he got familiarized with therapy techniques which inspired him to develop his own approach.

His contribution to psychology

Despite his motivation to develop his own therapy techniques, Carl Rogers became unsatisfied with his success in psychology. He mentioned that his patients could easier identify what they need to work on than he did.

Carl Rogers consequently created and published a paper on the Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child. This paper started becoming more known. The paper raised attention at Ohio State University, and the university offered Carl Rogers to work as a professor of clinical psychology at the school.

Carl Rogers identified that in a person-centered therapy approach the client often demonstrates to have the capacity to guide themselves in their treatment. He named this a ‘nondirective approach’. He started conceptualizing his theories in the language of science so that it could continuously be tested.

From 1942 until 1944, Carl Rogers served as a chairman of the clinical section of the American Association for Applied Psychology. He additionally was the president of the American Psychological Association from 1946 until 1947.

He was also a trainer for the staff of the United Service Organization during World War 2 where he trained the staff counseling techniques. Because of his contributions to the United Service Organization, Carl Rogers was later invited by the University of Chicago to establish a new counseling center.

He and his family moved to Chicago in 1945, and Carl Rogers started working as a professor at the University of Chicago. During his position, he was able to measure the effectiveness of his research methods. His findings have various times been published.

In 1956, Carl Rogers was awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association. He received the award for his original method to objectify the description and analysis of the psychotherapeutic process, for formulating a testable theory of psychotherapy and its effects on personality and behavior, and for extensive systematic research to exhibit the value of the method and explore and test the implications of the theory.

He later worked as a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1957 until 1964. During this time, he developed the concept active listening.

Who is Carl Rogers?

Carl Rogers’ unusual research methods have inspired scientific innovations in psychology. He is still cited in today’s research. This makes the question: “Who is Carl Rogers?” Still significant.
Carl Rogers is a well-known psychologist and has published influential research. His ‘nondirective approach’ has been applied to education, cultural relations, and other service areas. Carl Rogers authored various books, and his theories have additionally influenced modern psychotherapy and the field of mental health.

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Famous quotes

  1. “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
  2. “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”
  3. “What is most personal is most universal.”
  4. “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”
  5. “I’m not perfect… But I’m enough.”
  6. “There is direction but there is no destination”
  7. “We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.”
  8. “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”
  9. “Once an experience is fully in awareness, fully accepted, then it can be coped with effectively, like any other clear reality.”
  10. “We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.”
  11. “Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life.”
  12. “People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”

Publications, books and journals by Carl Rogers et al.

  • 1986. Reflection of feelings. Person-Centered Review, 14, 375-377.
  • 1985. Toward a more human science of the person. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 254, 7-24.
  • 1983. Freedom to learn for the 80’s. No. 371.39 R724f. Ohio, US: Merrill Publishing, 1983.
  • 1979. The foundations of the person-centered approach. Education, 1002.
  • 1975. Empathic: An unappreciated way of being. The counseling psychologist, 52, 2-10.
  • 1974. Client-centered theory: Carl R. Rogers.
  • 1972. Becoming partners.
  • 1970. Carl Rogers on encounter groups.
  • 1967. The therapeutic relationship and its impact: A study of psychotherapy with schizophrenics.
  • 1966. Client-centered therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • 1964. Toward a modern approach to values: The valuing process in the mature person. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 682, 160.
  • 1963. Toward a science of the person. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 32, 72-92.
  • 1963. Actualizing tendency in relation to “Motives” and to consciousness.
  • 1962. The interpersonal relationship. Harvard Educational Review, 324, 416-429.
  • 1961. The characteristics of a helping relationship. On becoming a person, 39-58.
  • 1960. Development of a scale to measure process changes in psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 161, 79-85.
  • 1958. The characteristics of a helping relationship. The Personnel and Guidance Journal, 371, 6-16.
  • 1957. The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of consulting psychology, 212, 95.
  • 1957. Active listening. Industrial Relations Center of the University of Chicago.
  • 1956. Some issues concerning the control of human behavior. Science, 1243231, 1057-1066.
  • 1956. Clientcentered theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 115.
  • 1955. Persons or science? A philosophical question. American Psychologist, 107, 267.
  • 1954. Toward a theory of creativity. ETC: A review of general semantics, 249-260.
  • 1954. Psychotherapy and personality change.
  • 1952. Client-Centered Psychotherapy. Scientific American, 1875, 66-75.
  • 1947. Some observations on the organization of personality. American Psychologist, 29, 358.
  • 1946. Significant aspects of client-centered therapy. American Psychologist, 110, 415-422.
  • 1945. The nondirective method as a technique for social research. American journal of sociology, 504, 279-283.
  • 1942. Counselling and psychotherapy. Vol. 298. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • 1939. The clinical treatment of the problem child.

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Original publication date: 07/11/2018 | Last update: 12/09/2023

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Alexander Zeeman
Article by:

Alexander Zeeman

Alexander Zeeman is Content Manager at ToolsHero where he focuses on Content production, Content management and marketing. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business school. Currently, in his study, working on the development of various management competencies and improving operational business processes.


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