In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?
If the time comes when our culture tires of the endless homicidal feuds, despairs of the use of force and war as a means of bringing peace, becomes discontent with the half-lives that its members are living - only then will our culture seriously look for alternatives.
Although the client-centered approach had its origin purely within the limits of the psychological clinic, it is proving to have implications, often of a startling nature, for very diverse fields of effort.
A second characteristic of the process which for me is the good life, is that it involves an increasingly tendency to live fully in each moment. I believe it would be evident that for the person who was fully open to his new experience, completely without defensiveness, each moment would be new.
The action of the child inventing a new game with his playmates; Einstein formulating a theory of relativity; the housewife devising a new sauce for the meat, a young author writing his first novel; all of these are in terms of definition, Creative, and there is no attempt to set them in some order of more or less Creative.
The kind of caring that the client-centered therapist desires to achieve is a gullible caring, in which clients are accepted as they say they are, not with a lurking suspicion in the therapist's mind that they may, in fact, be otherwise. This attitude is not stupidity on the therapist's part; it is the kind of attitude that is most likely to lead to trust...
I believe I know why it is satisfying to me to hear someone. When I can really hear someone, it puts me in touch with him; it enriches my life. It is through hearing people that I have learned all that I know about individuals, about personality, about interpersonal relationships.
This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life.
We can choose to use our growing knowledge to enslave people in ways never dreamed of before, depersonalizing them, controlling them by means so carefully selected that they will perhaps never be aware of their loss of personhood.
I have come to recognize that being trustworthy does not demand that I be rigidly consistent but that I be dependably real...Can I be expressive enough as a person that what I am will be communicated unambiguously?
It is that the individual has within him or herself vast resources for self-understanding, for altering the self-concept basic attitudes, and his or her self-directed behavior - and that these resources can be tapped if only a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided
People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.
When the other person is hurting, confused, troubled, anxious, alienated, terrified; or when he or she is doubtful of self-worth, uncertain as to identity, then understanding is called for. The gentle and sensitive companionship of an empathic stanceâ¦ provides illumination and healing. In such situations deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.
When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good. . . . When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions which seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.
I think my deepest criticism of the educational system . . . is that it's all based upon a distrust of the student. Don't trust him to follow his own leads; guide him; tell him what to do; tell him what he should think; tell him what he should learn. Consequently at the very age when he should be developing adult characteristics of choice and decision making, when he should be trusted on some of those things, trusted to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes, he is, instead, regimented and shoved into a curriculum, whether it fits him or not.
I realize that if I were stable, prudent and static; I'd live in death. Therefore I accept confusion, uncertainty, fear and emotional ups and downs; because that's the price I'm willing to pay for a fluid, perplexed and exciting life.
One of the most satisfying experiences I know is fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I appreciate a sunset. When I look at a sunset... I don't find myself saying, 'Soften the orange a little more on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple along the base, and use a little more pink in the cloud color...' I don't try to control a sunset. I watch it with awe as it unfolds.
The only reality I can possibly know is the world as I perceive it at this moment. The only reality you can possibly know is the world as you see it at this moment. And the only certainty is that those perceived realities are different. There are as many âreal worldsâ as there are people!
If I can listen to what he can tell me, if I can understand how it seems to him; if I can see its personal meaning for him, if I can sense the emotional flavor which it has for him, then I will be releasing potent forces of change in him.
Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person's ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming me.
You know that I don't believe that anyone has ever taught anything to anyone. I question that efficacy of teaching. The only thing that I know is that anyone who wants to learn will learn. And maybe a teacher is a facilitator, a person who puts things down and shows people how exciting and wonderful it is and asks them to eat.
I hear the words, the thoughts, the feeling tones, the personal meaning, even the meaning that is below the conscious intent of the speaker. Sometimes too, in a message which superficially is not very important, I hear a deep human cry that lies buried and unknown far below the surface of the person. So I have learned to ask myself, can I hear the sounds and sense the shape of this other person's inner world? Can I resonate to what he is saying so deeply that I sense the meanings he is afraid of, yet would like to communicate, as well as those he knows?
Over the years, however, the research evidence keeps piling up, and it points strongly to the conclusion that a high degree of empathy in a relationship is possibly the most potent and certainly one of the most potent factors in bringing about change and learning.
If I were to search for the central core of difficulty in people as I have come to know them, it is that in the great majority of cases they despise themselves, regarding themselves as worthless and unlovable.
So, as you can readily see from what I have said thus far, a creative, active, sensitive, accurate, empathic, nonjudgmental listening is for me terribly important in a relationship. It is important for me to provide it; it has been extremely important, especially at certain times in my life, to receive it. I feel that I have grown within myself when I have provided it; I am very sure that I have grown and been released and enhanced when I have received this kind of listening.
True empathy is always free of any evaluative or diagnostic quality. This comes across to the recipient with some surprise. "If I am not being judged, perhaps I am not so evil or abnormal as I have thought".
When a person realizes he has been deeply heard, his eyes moisten. I think in some real sense he is weeping for joy. It is as though he were saying, "Thank God, somebody heard me. Someone knows what it's like to be me".
The way of being with another person which is termed empathic...means temporarily living in their life, moving abut in it delicately without making judgment... to be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter the other's world without prejudice...a complex, demanding, strong yet subtle and gentle way of being.
If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.
The elements in a relationship which seem impossible to share, the secretly disturbing, dissatisfying elements, are the most rewarding to share. This is a hard, risky, frightening thing to learn, and it needs to be re-learned over and over.
I have learned that in any significant or continuing relationship, feelings which are persistent had best be expressed. If they are expressed as feelings owned by me, the result may be temporarily upsetting but ultimately far more rewarding than any attempt to deny or conceal them.
The state of empathy, or being empathic, is to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person.
The genuinely significant creation, whether an idea, or a work of art, or a scientific discovery, is most likely to be seen at first as erroneous, bad, or foolish. Later it may be seen as obvious, something self-evident to all. Only still later does it receive its final evaluation as a creative contribution. It seems clear no contemporary mortal can satisfactorily evaluate a creative product at the time it is formed, and this statement is increasingly true the greater the novelty of the creation.
Facilitative attitudes (and skills) can help a therapist gain entry into the group Freedom from a desire to control the outcome, and respect for the capacity of the group, and skills in releasing individual expression Openness to all attitudes no matter how extreme or unrealistic they may seem Acceptance of the problems experienced by the group where they are clearly defined as issues Allowance of the freedom of choices in direction, either for the group or individuals particularly in the near future
Though modern Marriage is a tremendous laboratory, its members are often without preparation for the partnership function. How much agony and remorse and failure could have been avoided if there had been at least some rudimentary learning before they entered the partnership.
To perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the "as if" condition. Thus, it means to sense the hurt or the pleasure of another as he senses it and to perceive the causes thereof as he perceives them, but without ever losing the recognition that it is as if I were hurt or pleased and so forth.
There is another peculiar satisfaction in really hearing someone: It is like listening to the music of the spheres, because beyond the immediate message of the person, no matter what that might be, there is the universal. Hidden in all of the personal communications which I really hear there seem to be orderly psychological laws, aspects of the same order we find in the universe as a whole. So there is both the satisfaction of hearing this person and also the satisfaction of feeling one's self in touch with what is universally true.
Empathy is a special way of coming to know another and ourself, a kind of attuning and understanding. When empathy is extended, it satisfies our needs and wish for intimacy, it rescues us from our feelings of aloneness.
Most of us consist of two separated parts, trying desperately to bring themselves together into an integrated soma, where the distinctions between mind and body, feelings and intellect, would be obliterated.
The education situation which most effectively promotes significant learning is one in which (1) threat to the self of the learner is reduced to a minimum and (2) differential perception of the field of experience is facilitated
The sense of community does not arise out of collective movement, nor from conforming to some group direction. Quite the contrary. Each individual tends to use the opportunity to become all that he or she can become. Separateness and diversity - the uniqueness of being "me" - are experienced
The mainspring of creativity appears to be the same tendency which we discover so deeply as the curative force in psychotherapy, man's tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities. By this I mean the organic and human life, the urge to expand, extend, develop, mature - the tendency to express and activate all the capacities of the organism, or the self.
One of the most revolutionary concepts to grow out of our clinical experience is the growing recognition that innermost core of man's nature - the deepest layers of his personality, the base of his 'animal nature' - is basically socialized, forward-moving, rational and realistic... He is realistically able to control himself, and he is incorrigibly socialized in his desires. There is no beast in man, there is only man in man.
An empathic way of being can be learned from empathic persons. Perhaps the most important statement of all is that the ability to be accurately empathic is something which can be developed by training. Therapists, parents and teachers can be helped to become empathic. This is especially likely to occur if their teachers and supervisors are themselves individuals of sensitive understanding. It is most encouraging to know that this subtle, elusive quality, of utmost importance in therapy, is not something one is "born with", but can be learned, and learned most rapidly in an empathic climate.
When I can relax, and be close to the transcendental core of me, then I may behave in strange and impulsive ways in the relationship, ways I cannot justify rationally, which have nothing to do with my thought processes. But these strange behaviors turn out to be right in some odd way. At these moments it seems that my inner spirit has reached out and touched the inner spirit of the other. Our relationship transcends itself and has become something larger.