CARL ROGERS (1902-1987)

His Life & Background

CHILDHOOD: In 1902, Carl Rogers was born. Rogers is often referredto as the father of humanistic psychology, and is known for theperson-centered approach (PCA).

In his writings, as Rogers reflected on his childhood years, Rogers (1961)reported that his home life atmosphere was best characterized by tight and warmrelationships and strict Protestant [religious] standards. Play was discouraged,and the virtues of the Protestant ethic were extolled... and as a result, hisboyhood years were lonely ones in which he pursued scholarly interests insteadof social ones (Corey, 1986).

COLLEGE YEARS: As a college student, Rogers interests were diverse. Hebegan his studies as an agriculture major before switching to history...then toreligion...and finally to clinical psychology. Rogers believes that the turningpoint in his life that directed him to psychology, in particular clinicalpsychology, occurred during his junior year when he was selected to attend aWorld Student Christian Federation conference in Peking. As Rogers stated, "Iconsider this a time when I achieved my psychological independence. In majorways I for the first time emancipated myself from the religious thinking of myparents, and realized that I could not go along with them" (Corey, 1986).

As a result, his graduate school years were also marked by questioning anddeciding. Rogers began his graduate work at the Union Theological Seminarybefore transferring to psychology at the Teachers College of ColumbiaUniversity, where he received his Ph.D. in 1931.

POST-COLLEGE YEARS: After obtaining his Ph.D., Rogers held an array ofacademic appointments until 1962. Rogers taught at Ohio State University(1941-45), and the universities of Chicago (1945-57) and Wisconsin (1957-62).However, due to his dissatisfaction with the current therapeutic and diagnostictechniques as well as his disagreement with the educational policies of graduatepsychology programs, Rogers decided to depart from the university setting. Thus,two years later he joined the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in La Jolla,California staff. In this position, he worked with groups of individuals whowere striving to improve their human relations abilities. By 1968, Rogers and afew of his colleagues had separated from the group to found their own Centerfor the Studies of the Person in La Jolla.

Subsequently, throughout the 1960s and 70s, Rogers spearheaded the developmentof personal-growth groups, and his influence spread to working with couples andfamilies; and his ideas were also applied to administration, minority groups,interracial and intercultural groups, and international relationships (Corey,1986). In addition, because of the universality of Rogers' ideas and approach,his theories can be applied to a variety of realms, including education.

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