Monthly Archives: December 2016

December 22 – Relating to God: Part 5- Psychology as Secular Meditation- Part 4: The Self That is Found

Today’s Post

Last week we saw in some detail how the approach developed by Carl Rogers was applied in his guided inner search (our ‘secular meditation’) and how it resonated with  Teilhard’s insistence that the personal core within us was a manifestation of the cosmic uplifting of all things, the energy of God working within us.  This week we will see in more detail how Rogers observed the finding of this inner core and participated in the person’s emerging ability to cooperate with it.

What Rogers Saw in His Clinical Experience

In Rogers’ clinical experience, he conducted many psychological surveys in which he observed the following changes taking place in his “clients” as they undergo therapy:

– The individual becomes more integrated, more effective

– Fewer of the characteristics are shown which are usually termed neurotic or psychotic, and more of the healthy, well-functioning person

– The perception of himself changes, becoming more realistic in views of self

– He becomes more like the person he wishes to be, and values himself more highly

– He is more self-confident and self-directing

– He has a better understanding of himself, becomes open to his experience, denies or represses less of his experience

– He becomes more accepting in his attitudes towards others, seeing others as more similar to himself

Rogers saw the role of the therapist as “facilitating” these changes, fostering them by way of offering the client a relationship in which the client can feel safe enough to discover the value of the person that Kierkegaard believed “to be that self that one truly is”.

Rogers used the results seen in his clinical experience to delineate the steps which the client experiences as he becomes more aware of himself and increasingly ready to cooperate with energies of his life.  He saw the following things happening in such a person:

– Feelings evolve from being remote, un-owned to fearlessly experienced in the immediate present

– Experiences evolve from very remote and meaningless to immediate, and as an acceptable referent for accurate meaning

– Congruence between experience and awareness becomes more complete as experience becomes safer

– Communication becomes clearer as the internal connection between feelings, experiences and awareness improves

– Problems become recognized, understood and owned

– As experiences are perceived as a trustworthy guide to his behavior in relationships, the danger perceived in relationships is lessened

The Person that Emerges From Psychotherapy

In general, Rogers saw the maturing person as

– Increasingly open to his experience, which permits him to become less defensive

– Increasingly “existential”; living more fully in each moment, in touch with experiences and feelings

– Increasingly trusting of his own organism, able to trust those feelings and experiences

– Increasingly able to function more completely

So against the Freudian belief that man is basically irrational, and that his impulses, if not controlled will lead to the destruction of others and self, Rogers saw the human person as capable of becoming freer, less defined by the past and more open to the future as he grows.  Since the basic nature of the human person is constructive and trustworthy, as he matures the person will become more creative and live more constructively.

The relationship that Rogers sees as necessary between the client and his therapist is very like that seen as mature love between human persons.  Rogers comments,

“There seems every reason to hypothesize that the therapeutic relationship is only one instance of interpersonal relations, and that the same lawfulness governs all such relationships.”

Every human relationship touches on some aspect of the characteristics that Rogers identifies in the process of “becoming a person”.  In all relationships, from the most intimate to the most fraternal, such skills as management and expression of feelings, owning of experience, congruence between experience and awareness, clarity of communication, responsibility for problems and honesty manifest themselves in patience, empathy and tolerance.  In all relationships, when we are welcomed into an accepting environment, we are able to move a little closer to “being that person that we are”, and when we welcome another in the same way, their own “becoming” is invited.

Existentialists and Teilhard

The new perspective pioneered by the existentialists can be seen in the light of the “Teilhardian Shift” (29 Nov-11 Dec, 2014)), which itself comes from the concept of general evolution in human thinking precipitated by the scientific discoveries of Cosmic “size”, “duration” and “unfolding”.  To begin to understand everything as “in the process of evolution” can be interpreted as seeing everything “in the process of becoming”, since each step in evolution comes from something to something new, and the new something which results is more complex than its precedent.

Since the human person can be seen as simply the latest manifestation of this fundamental cosmic process, we can expect the same dynamic to be working in our lives.  Every day offers us the opportunity to grow from the someone we are to a someone new.  The new aspects of our person which emerge, if this growth is authentic, are consistent and congruent with the forces of the universe.  They are well articulated by Rogers and consistent with the positive expectations of the existentialists.

The Next Post

Next week we will recap where we have got to in our search for the ‘Secular Side of God’

December 8 – Relating to God: Part 5- Psychology as Secular Meditation- Part 3: Finding Self

December 8 – Relating to God: Part 5- Psychology as Secular Meditation- Part 3: Finding Self

Today’s Post

Last week we saw how psychology evolved from Freud’s analysis and diagnosis to a guided inner search for the authentic self and hence can be seen as a secular meditative experience.

This week we will explore one of the pivotal practitioners of psychology to see how this guided inner search can unfold.

Carl Rogers

Dr. Carl Rogers was one of the psychologists who was key to the evolution of psychology from Freud’s analysis and diagnosis to a very personal level of psychotherapy which focuses on the personal search for self.  Rogers was one of the earliest psychologists to depart from the then-traditional viewpoint that sees the therapist as a clinically objective analyst, sitting above and against the analyzed, translating the patient’s feelings and actions into terms derived from Freud such as libido, ego, superego and so on.  His goal was to uncover hidden motivations and use that the clarity of such insights to motivate clients to change their behavior. Rogers takes a decidedly different approach.  He speaks of his perspective in the introduction to his book, “On Becoming a Person”:

“It is about a client in my office who sits there by the corner of the desk, struggling to be himself, yet deathly afraid of being himself- striving to see his experience as it is, wanting to be that experience, and yet deeply fearful of the prospect.  I sit there with that client, facing him, participating in that struggle as deeply and sensitively as I am able.  I try to perceive his experience, and the meaning and the feeling and the taste and the flavor that it has for him.  I bemoan my very human fallibility in understanding that client, and the occasional failures to see life as it appears to him, failures which fall like heavy objects across the intricate, delicate web of growth which is taking place.  I rejoice at the privilege of being a midwife to a new personality- as I stand by with awe at the emergence of a self, a person, as I see a birth process in which I have had an important and facilitating part.”

Obviously this is quite different from the relationship that Freud formulates, as can be summarized by Rogers’ understanding of the role of the therapist: “How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?” instead of, “How can I diagnose, treat, cure, or change this person?”  The goal of both approaches is treatment of the individual, but the methods are clearly different.

Rogers believes that “change appears to come about through experience in a relationship”.   Rogers states his overall hypothesis: “If I can provide a certain type of relationship, the other person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationship for growth, and change, and personal development will occur”.  The therapist’s role changes from “analyst” to “facilitator”.  His approach changes from seeing the self that will be found as “dangerous” to seeing it as “a reliable base for human growth”.

Rogers believes that

 “The individual has within himself the capacity and the tendency, latent if not evident, to move forward to maturity.  In a suitable psychological climate this tendency is released, and becomes actual rather than potential.  He sees this potential as evident in his capacity to understand those aspects of his life and of himself which are causing him pain and dissatisfaction.  This is an understanding which probes beneath his conscious knowledge of himself into those experiences which he has hidden from himself because of their threatening nature.  As a result, the person who emerges tends to reorganize his personality and his relationship to life in ways which are regarded as more mature.”


“It is my hypothesis that in such a relationship the individual will reorganize himself at both the conscious and deeper levels of his personality in such a manner as to cope with life more constructively, more intelligently, and in a more socialized as well as a more satisfying way”.

So against the Freudian belief that man is basically irrational, and that his impulses, if not controlled will lead to the destruction of others and self, Rogers sees the human person as capable of becoming freer, less defined by the past and more open to the future as he grows.  Since the basic nature of the human person is constructive and trustworthy, as the person matures he will become more creative and live more constructively.

The Next Post

Having established the perspective of seeing the basic human self as constructive and trustworthy, Rogers went on to observe how these characteristics precipitated positive changes in the lives of his clients.  Next week we will see how he saw such growth taking place.