Carl Rogers is one of the founding members of the humanistic approach to psychology. He is one of America’s most influential psychologists. He changed many ways in which people look at psychology and how they are treated in the psychology professions.
He was born Carl Ransom Rogers in January of 1902 to a civil engineer and homemaker in Oak Park, Illinois. He was the fourth child of the couple’s six children. His education was in a strict religious and ethical environment and he became isolated. Because of his isolation and discipline he began to acquire a knowledge and appreciation for the scientific method.
He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where his first choice of study was agriculture followed by history and then religion. In 1922 at the age of 20 he traveled to Peking, China for an international Christian conference. He began to doubt his religious convictions and proceeded to attend a seminar entitled Why am I entering the ministry? this is where he decided to change his career plans.
He spent two years in the seminary and then attended Teachers College at Columbia University where he earned his M.A. in 1928 and his Ph. D. in 1931. He did some child study at Society for the prevention of cruelty to children while finishing his doctoral degree; he became the society’s director in 1930.
He became a professor at the Ohio State University in 1940 after his first book The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child. In 1942 he wrote his second book entitled Counseling and Psychotherapy: Newer concepts in practice. In this book he stated the client that has an understanding and accepting relationship with their therapist can then resolve any difficulties they are having and restructure their lives. In 1945 he helped set up the counseling center at the University of Chicago. He then published his best work in 1951 called Client-Centered Therapy where he talks about his basic theory of psychology.
His basic theory of psychology is a belief that mental health is a normal progression of life and that people are basically good or healthy. His theory is very mature and well thought out; it is logically tight and has a broad application. His theory is simple and is built on a single force of life he calls and actualizing tendency. It is defined as a built-in motivation present in every life-form to develop its potentials to the fullest extent possible. He believed that all creatures tried to make the very best of their existence. He later wrote 16 more books and may journals in describing his belief on the basic principles of psychology.
He became the first president of the American Academy of Psychotherapists in 1956. He became Humanist of the year in 1956 and received an invitation to join the Western Behavioral Science Institute. He moved to California for this and did research until leaving in 1968 to begin the Center for Studies of the Person. He continued to live in California until his death in 1987. During these last years he did therapy, speeches and writings. Most notably he traveled the world to apply his behavioral theories to areas of national conflict, including the blacks and whites in South Africa and the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland.
He worked with his daughter Natalie Rogers from 1975-1980 in residential programs that focused on the person centered approach of psychology. These workshops focused on many of his basic theories which included a focus on cross-cultural communications, personal growth, self empowerment, and social change.
Carl Rogers’s studies are in wide use in the psychology field. It is still practiced and studied to this day. In a study Rogers was found to be the sixth most eminent psychologist of the twentieth century second to Sigmund Freud. Had he not taken that class on Ministry then how would the world of psychology been altered?