EVALUATION

Overview

The person-centered movement brought about innovations in research and training as well as a new approach to counseling. Emphasizing objectivity in examination of client- practitioner relationships moved the profession forward in the evaluation of specific interaction variables in the process of counseling. This solid research background has not erased all problems from this approach, however, as it still has limitations. These include being considered a simplistic theory when it is actually quite complex, requiring greater trust in the client than people often are able to offer, and having few of the specific tactics for new counselors to fall back on that other theories provide.

Supporting Research

Rogers's perception of people and counseling as highly personal and individualized often gives newcomers to the field a sense that he and his theory deemphasize research over personal interaction. In fact, his early research has been recognized by some as "the birth of psychotherapy research" (Barrett-Lennard, 1998, p. 261). Rogers was a major innovator in the development of research techniques, recognizing that for any theory or technique to remain credible and become more effective, solid research is essential (Rogers, 1986).

Rogers pioneered the use of taped transcripts (Cain, 1987) and other clinical measures to broaden the scope of psychological research (Hjelle & Ziegler, 1992). These techniques helped bring the more subjective aspects of people, counseling, and psychotherapy into respectability. Among his earliest significant publications were books on extensive research studies with standard mental health center populations (Rogers & Dymond, 1954) and more cases of people with schizophrenia (Rogers, 1967). All this work demonstrated his commitment to research and established his basic concepts as valid and reliable sources of client progress.

Rogers's research and teaching tool that gets the most use today is the tape recording and transcribing of sessions with clients. Note taking from memory was not satisfactory. He wanted to hear and see as much of the interaction as possible to judge both the client's reactions and his own work. This taping and evaluating of sessions has become common practice today, and many of Rogers's tapes and transcripts of counseling sessions continue to be reviewed and analyzed in detail (Farber et al., 1996).

Research on person-centered counseling as a total theory motivated many studies in its early years, but the momentum for such research has declined significantly over the past 30 years (Kirschenbaum, 2009). This appears to be due in part to the general acceptance of Rogers's basic concepts as necessary, if not sufficient, conditions for counseling success and the extensive research done on them in the 1950s and 1960s (Hubble, Duncan, & Miller, 1999). Most recent research has been on the core conditions, which are widely believed to be Rogers's common factors (Nemec & Cichocki, 2008; See & Kamnetz, 2004). This acceptance is so widespread that one no longer considers many of these concepts Rogerian (Goodyear, 1987).

A few researchers have questioned the methodological aspects of some studies. Concerns about sophistication and rigor have been raised (Prochaska & Norcross, 1999), and similar comments have led others to ask whether these problems raise doubts about the validity of the theory (Watson, 1984). These concerns may deserve particular attention when considered alongside the fact that less person-centered research is now being conducted at the same time that the core conditions are widely accepted.

Person-centered theory has remained relatively unchanged over the last 60 years, which may be related to the reason for a lessening of research in the area. Whether or not a lack of theory development has brought about less research in this area, it is clear that for the theory to grow, both new ideas and additional research will be necessary in the future.

 
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