My counselor hero is Dr. Carl Rogers. As I have grown as a counselor, I have come to realize that his person-centered theory truly sings to my heart and is most helpful to people. Dr. Rogers revolutionized the psychotherapy profession starting in the mid-1900s. He believed that people have the answers to their problems already within themselves, and they just need the right therapeutic environment to discover their best path.
He is famous for naming the “core conditions” of therapy/counseling. These are:
1. The “realness” of the counselor. The counselor should strive to be real, genuine, transparent and congruent to the client. The counselor’s inner feelings and outer expression of those feelings should be one and the same.
2. Unconditional Positive Regard; aka respect, acceptance, caring, nonpossessive love, “prizing” of the client. The counselor should feel an unconditional caring and acceptance of the client as a separate person.
3. Empathy. The counselor must try to understand the inner world of the client. The counselor should become a “companion” for the client in his/her inner world. Empathy is the greatest tool of the counselor to engender the client’s therapeutic growth. For a client to feel truly understood is one of the main goals of person-centered therapy.
Dr. Rogers believed that people in general are very quick to give advice without truly entering the inner world of the client; walking in the client’s shoes. Dr. Rogers believed that advice-giving, for the most part, is not really all that helpful at all! If you can empower a client to find his/her own best solution, you just taught that client to fish, rather than just giving the client a fish!
Islamically, Dr. Roger’s theory echoes the values of compassion and honesty in Islam. Islam teaches us to show compassion to all of Allah’s people/creations. Compassion means that you truly care for somebody, that you show mercy to them rather than judging them.
“And what is the uphill road (to God’s pleasure)? It is to free a slave, or to feed, on a day of hunger, an orphan near of kin, or a poor person in misery… Then to be those who believe and exhort one another to patience and COMPASSION.” (The Holy Quran 90: 12-17)