Carl Rogers’ Organismic Valuing Process
Sometimes, we set goals on the basis of the expectations of friends, family or society. Achieving such goals fails to give us satisfaction. Carl Rogers, one of the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology, postulated that in order to achieve satisfaction, our goals need to be set according to our own values, personalities and sense of purpose. This is achieved through an ‘organismic valuing process’ in which various principles may be applied:
Authenticity: Being true to oneself rather than attempting to fulfil a superficial role. For example, a person may have learned that in order to achieve approval, emotions such as sadness or depression should not be recognised or expressed.
Autonomy: Making decisions autonomously without allowing the expectations of others to influence us. A young person might adopt an unsuitable career because he or she was expected to enter the family business.
Internal Locus of Evaluation: Making judgements according to our own reasoning, instead of attempting to conform to what we believe others might approve of. As an example, a person may choose a spouse because society would regard the marriage as a ‘good match,’ instead of considering his or her personal preferences.
Unconditional Positive Regard: Being able to accept ourselves and recognise our own value and worth as well as our thoughts and feelings is important in building congruence.
Process Living: Recognising that there is no point at which we can say we have ‘arrived’ – living is a continuous process and we are constantly in a process of ‘becoming.’
Relatedness: Achieving meaningful relationships in which there is mutual appreciation and understanding. Having support and understanding helps us in the actualising process and promotes confidence and personal growth.
Openness to Inner and Outer Experience: The ability to identify and understand our own and others’ behaviour and feelings.
Through continued organismic valuing, we begin to understand our natural value system. This enables us to make choices through which we are more likely to fulfil our ‘actualising tendency’ or natural desire to develop.
Rogers noted that those who experienced a loving and supportive environment during their formative years were more likely to trust their own reasoning and feelings when making decisions and setting goals. In contrast, those who lack the benefit of support and affirmation tend to feel the need to fulfil ‘conditions of worth’ in order to achieve the positive regard of others.
Rogers believed that counsellors can best help their clients by reflecting what they are saying, rather than attempting a Freudian analysis of their subconscious. The client becomes better able to analyse and understand, acknowledge and accept his or her feelings and preferences and can use the knowledge to eliminate ‘incongruence’ – the feeling of dissatisfaction brought about by conforming to a value system that is contrary to personal preferences. In assisting a client, the therapist must maintain a genuine warmth and supportiveness that allows the client to explore thoughts and feelings openly.