Julia's Reviews > A Way of Being

A Way of Being by Carl R. Rogers
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's review
Aug 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: clinical-work, memoirs
Read in August, 2011

I stole this book from my little brother, who took a seminar on existential and humanistic psychology during his last semester of college. Lucky duck!

Anyway, Carl Rogers is badass. I taught Introduction to Psychology this summer for the third time, and whenever we discuss his person-centered approach, I get bemused questions such as, "So he just...listened to his clients? Really listened to them? And it worked?" Well, yes. Essentially, Carl Rogers articulated the idea that what makes a therapist helpful is not how many degrees a therapist has, or how many fancy and completely non-parsimonious theories they espouse, but how well they connect to their clients, and if they can actually provide unconditional positive regard--the idea that a therapist doesn't have to like or condone things that clients do, but does have to accept them as worthwhile human beings, no matter their circumstances or actions. This is not just some warm and fuzzy idea; decades after Rogers first started writing, we now have a strong body of evidence that the type of therapy matters far, far less than how much you like and trust the person you're graciously allowing to help you.

This book is a mash-up of memoir, academic writings (one special treat is hearing him get super sassy while addressing his naysayers in the American Psychological Association after receiving some fancy-schmancy award), and philosophical treatises explicating his perspective. It's really fun. Not "light reading" fun, but I would definitely recommend it if you're a mental health professional, or if you'd like to read something that's continually optimistic about the potential for growth present in all human beings.

Two quick quotes. First, Rogers is all about the freedom that comes from finding and maintaining your own integrity:

"To be a person...this would be painful, costly, sometimes even terrifying. But it would be very precious: to be oneself is worth a high price."

Second, this is Rogers' telling therapists that real therapy requires bravery, on the part of the client, but also on the part of the therapist, as well. I hope I eventually get to a place where this is what I consistently do:

"We are deeply helpful only when we relate as persons, when we risk ourselves as persons in the relationship, when we experience the other as a person in his own right. Only then is there a meeting at a depth that dissolves the pain of aloneness in both client and therapist."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Orsolya (new)

Orsolya Kelemen Carl Rogers must have been a truely wonderful man! I love his books and being in client centered therapy and sometimes going through difficult times his books really helped me.

Julia I'm sure he would have been glad to hear that, Orsolya.

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