The other night in my Counseling Theories class we had the pleasure of watching what is commonly known as “The Gloria Tapes”. They are a collection of three therapy sessions conducted on the same woman by three pioneers in the therapy field, Carl Rogers (person centered therapy), Fritz Perls (gestalt therapy), and Albert Ellis (rational emotive behavioral therapy(REBT)). It was fascinating in the way that learning and seeing your heroes always is. However, I learned a few things from this experience, one of which is the topic of discussion for today.
I’ve always be taught and believed in the idea that the therapeutic relationship is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspects of therapy. I’ve grown up on the idea of unconditional positive regard. I’ve studied Rogers and worshiped him almost as the first “psychotherapist” to put his methods and ideas to the test. His ideas and methods have been scientifically proven to be effective in treatment of a wide variate of mental health conditions.
And after watching him and Gloria I realize that I can’t stand it. Person centered therapy as Rogers envisioned it makes me want to pull my hair out. I wanted to reach through the screen and slap him, or shake him, or something. It was mind numbing. Had I been sitting across from him I would have probably gotten up and left.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate the ideas behind person centered. But I will never be able to do straight up person centered therapy. I am entirely too solution focused for that. I loved watching Alfred Ellis work. I absolutely loved it. But, Carl Rogers…not so much. I’m glad I realized this now. It will make life much easier later.