‘I should like to point out one final characteristic of these individuals as they strive to discover and become themselves. It is that the individual seems to become more content to be a process rather than a product. When he enters the therapeutic relationship, the client is likely to wish to achieve some fixed state: he wants to reach the point where his problems are solved, or where he is effective in his work, or where his marriage is satisfactory. He tends, in the freedom of the therapeutic relationship, to drop such fixed goals, and to accept a more satisfying realization that he is not a fixed entity, but a process of becoming.
One client, at the conclusion of therapy, says in rather puzzled fashion, “I haven’t finished the job of integrating and reorganizing myself, but that’s only confusing, not discouraging, now that I realize this is a continuing process…..it’s exciting, sometimes upsetting, but deeply encouraging to feel yourself in action, apparently knowing where you are going even though you don’t always consciously know where that is.”
One can see here both the expression of trust in the organism, which I have mentioned, and also the realization of self as a process. Here is a personal description of what it seems like to accept oneself as a stream of becoming, not a finished product. It means that a person is a fluid process, not a fixed and static entity; a flowing river of change, not a block of solid material; a continually changing constellation of potentialities, not a fixed quantity of traits.’
On Becoming a Person: Carl Rogers
Okay, Rogers, like us all, was of his culture and his time, and some of the language is a little dated. The writer has a few issues with the potential ‘us and them’ of ‘therapist’ and ‘client’, although we think Rogers was clear that he was making observations about human beings – all of us – in it together, the ‘universal’ in the ‘personal’…..equality….today’s therapist may be tomorrow’s client, and vice versa….At this service, we do not take on therapists, who are not themselves willing – and making a commitment – to dive deeply into their own ‘stuff’, through their own therapy and in many other ways. We can truly accompany another, only on a journey we have also made ourselves….
Rogers’ content here sits right at the heart of what we see day by day, in our work at this service. It catches some of the fundamentals of how we make sense of therapy, the person-centred approach to therapy and the process of therapeutic change. Rogers got it, experientially, intuitively, intellectually, and we are grateful to him….
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter