A major goal of counselling according to Rogers is for the client to accept responsibility for his own values, and to recognise where he is living by values largely introjected from others. He referred to the need for shedding the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ from his personal value system. He illustrates some introjected values and how these might be reconstrued as personal values (1951: 149):

  • "I should never be angry at anyone" (because my parents and church regard anger as wrong) might move to —"I should be angry at a person when I deeply feel angry because this leaves less residual effect than bottling up the feeling, and actually makes for a better and more realistic relationship".

  • "I should be successful in my courses" (because my parents count on my success) might move to —"I should be successful in my courses if they have long-range meaning to me."

  • "I should be sexless" (because my mother seems to regard sex as wicked and out of place for any right-minded person), or "I should be completely casual about sex behaviour" (because my sophisticated friends have this attitude) might move to —"I accept my sexuality, and value highly those expressions of it which result in long-range enhancement of self and others; I value less highly those expressions which give only transient satisfactions, or do not enhance self".

Rogers (1967: 167) observes: "In my relationship with these individuals my aim has been to provide a climate which contains as much of safety, of warmth, of empathic understanding, as I can genuinely find in myself to give". Within this relationship, some moves seen in clients are:

  • Away from façades, "away from a self that he is not" while beginning to define, however negatively, what he is.

  • Away from ‘oughts’ and the compelling images of what others expect them to be; often moves away from regarding themselves as ‘bad’.

  • Away from meeting expectations: "I’ve been so long trying to live according to what was meaningful to other people …"

  • Away from pleasing others — often to win their acceptance or liking. "I finally felt that I simply had to begin doing what I wanted to . .

  • Toward self-direction, towards being autonomous, responsible for self, learning from their own mistakes.

  • Toward becoming process, able to face new ideas and events with flexibility "rather than being or becoming some fixed goal".

  • Toward complexity, being all of oneself, "with nothing hidden from oneself, and nothing feared in oneself".

  • Toward openness to experience rather than feeling defensive and anxious about it, displaying what Maslow called "a superior awareness of their own impulses, their own desires, opinions and subjective reactions in general".

  • Toward acceptance of others, as they become more accepting of themselves.

  • Toward trust of self. Clients have "developed more trust of the processes going on in themselves, and have dared to feel their own feelings, live by values which they discover within, and express themselves in their own unique ways.


Rogers, C. (1951) Client-centred therapy. London: Constable
Rogers, C. (1967) On becoming a person: a therapist's view of psychotherapy. London: Constable