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The phenomenological theory of Carl Rogers

The phenomenological theory of Carl Rogers

November 27, 2021

Each person has their own unique way of capturing reality , to think and process what happens to us and to act according to our perceptions, previous experiences, beliefs and values. In other words, every human being has his own personality.

This construct has been studied from very different theories and points of view, as well as those problems and disorders that derive from a lack of coordination and adaptation between personality characteristics and the events of everyday life. One of them is the phenomenological theory of Carl Rogers, centered in the formation of the I and the personality and the adaptation of these, oriented towards the clinical practice.


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The phenomenological theory of Rogers

Carl Rogers was a psychologist of great importance in the history of psychology, being recognized as one of the greatest exponents of humanistic psychology and for his contribution to the practice of psychotherapy with innovations such as client-centered therapy. Much of his contributions are due to his vision of how human beings integrate reality to form their own Self. And this aspect is especially worked on in the so-called phenomenological theory of Rogers.

This theory establishes that each person perceives the world and reality in a particular way based on the experience and the interpretation he makes of it, so that he constructs his own reality from these elements. This interpretation of reality is what Rogers calls a phenomenological field. For Rogers, the reality is the perception that each person has of it , since it is not possible to observe it in any other way than through the filter of our own mind.


Thus, the professional who seeks to understand and treat another human being must start from the idea that to understand him he will have to take into account not only what he does objectively, but the subjective vision of the world that he possesses and that has led to it, working with both elements at the same time from the link between professional and patient.

The phenomenological theory of Rogers is based on the idea that the behavior is mediated by internal elements , as the tendency to update and evaluate experiences. The human being tries to find his place in the world, feeling self-realization with it and basing his conception on personal growth.

The human being as an organism that is updated

Throughout life, the human being is continually exposed to a flow of situations that will force him to adapt to survive. The goal of this is to find your own place in the world. To this end, we have as a body the tendency to constantly update ourselves: we are motivated to grow and expand continuously as this allows us, on the one hand, to survive and, on the other, to develop and achieve achieve autonomy and meet objectives .


Also, we learn to evaluate situations positively or negatively depending on whether they allow us to update them, approaching the elements that allow us to satisfy ourselves and moving away from those that make it difficult for us. We are learning to visualize reality in a certain way and this vision will mark our interaction with the environment.

This trend is present from birth , trying to coordinate this development with our being to form a more or less stable I over time, which will mark our identity and our personality.

Self-concept and the need for acceptance and self-esteem

Phenomenological theory focuses mainly on the processes of behavior and personality change throughout life. An important concept is the self-concept, which is understood as the consciousness of oneself and which serves as a model or frame of reference from which reality is perceived and to which the perceived experience is linked to grant it, while at the same time same, a value.

This self-concept is based on the organism, the totality of the person, both physically and mentally, and which serves as a basis for conscious and non-conscious experiences.

The self-concept is generated throughout the evolution and growth of the person, as they internalize and self-assign traits that they perceive from the actions of others and their effects. Based on these self-assigned traits an image of the self is formed , gradually acquiring awareness of their individuality

The minor's own actions provoke a reaction on the part of others, reactions that will become relevant throughout the development as the need for feel affection from others and be valued positively.According to the behavior is approved or otherwise punished, the person will learn to value themselves in a way that will end up building self-esteem.

The mental disorder

This self-esteem or emotional assessment of the person will make an ideal Yo sketch , what the subject would like to be, and try to achieve it. But our ideal ego can be more or less close to our real self, which can trigger frustrations and diminished self-esteem if an approach to the first is not achieved. In the same way, if the situations that are experienced contradict our development, they are seen as a threat.

When the self-concept and reality contradict each other, the human being tries to react through different reactions that reduce the contradiction. It is at this moment where pathological reactions may arise as the negation or dissociation, according to the defensive reaction is not enough or is disorganized, which can lead to the appearance of mental disorders to disintegrate the personality of the individual.

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In therapy

In therapy, Rogers considers that the professional must act from empathy and making use of the intuition and the connection with the patient to get to understand its phenomenological field, so that it can contribute to guide him in his acquisition of autonomy and development.

It is important to bear in mind that for Rogers each person is responsible for himself, being the subject himself who is going to elaborate his development and to carry out the change process. The therapist is a guide or help , but he can not make the change for him but help the person to find ways to update himself in the best possible way.

The role of the professional is therefore to guide and help to see the subject that motivates or in what direction develops from the relationship with the patient, which should allow and help to express themselves. It is based on complete acceptance of the patient , without conditions, to achieve that it opens its phenomenological field and can make aware and accept those experiences that contradict its self-concept. This seeks to make the person able to reintegrate his personality and develop positively.

  • Related article: "Self-acceptance: 5 psychological tips to achieve it"

Bibliographic references:

  • Bermúdez, J. (2004). Psychology of the Personality. Theory and research (Vols. I and II). Didactic Unit of the UNED. Madrid.
  • Evans, R.I. (1987). The Artificers of Psychology and Psychoanalysis. Conversations with the Great Contemporary Psychologists. Mexico: FCE, pp. 267 and 254.
  • Hernangómez, L. and Fernández, C. (2012). Psychology of personality and differential. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR, 07. CEDE: Madrid.
  • Martínez, J.C. (1998). The Theory of Personality of Carl Rogers. School of Psychology of the University of Colima.

Carl Rogers theory on self (PSY) (November 2021).


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