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Review: A Way of Being

Psychologist’s final advice echoes Christ’s teaching

I love reading authors’ first and last books.

First books are inspired. We see what makes writers so passionate that they have to write. Last books are about what authors wish to leave behind, the most important things they have gleaned over a lifetime.

Carl R. Rogers. A Way of Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. 414 pages.

A Way of Being by Carl R. Rogers falls into the latter category. Here Rogers, one of the most influential psychologists in American history, the father of client-centered therapy, shares his most important speeches, papers, articles, chapters and his current (as of 1980) perspective on them.

Rogers also shares that what has been most fulfilling to him — and, hopefully, most impressive to the reader — is that his life’s work has been upheld. He has proved time and again that the relationship between therapist and client is the most important factor in promoting change. That relationship is fostered most successfully by a therapist’s own personal congruence, acceptance of who they are, and by giving the client a time of empathetic listening.

In other words, to help someone else, we must know who we are, we must accept them as they are and we must actively listen without judgment.

Rogers goes on to extrapolate these findings to other fields that interest him, including education. Rogers, who died in 1987, was a revolutionary man with bold ideas about treating everyone equally because we all have value.

Jill Nichols | What we’re reading

He doesn’t mention much about religion other than to talk about treating the “wholeness” of a person. But it is impossible to read his theories and not see how they parallel the teachings of Jesus. And the response to the Savior isn’t dissimilar either.

Some thought Rogers wasn’t intellectual enough. He didn’t play by the rules or maintain the status quo. He has many critics in academia. He didn’t seem to be bothered by them.

He cared about the clients. He cared about their progress. And none of them are complaining.

JILL NICHOLS is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Edmond, Okla. She and her husband, Brent, and their two children were missionaries in Niterói, Brazil for eight years.

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Filed under: 2018 year in review A Way of Being books Carl R. Rogers counseling Opinion Review Reviews What we're reading

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