Rogers 19 Propositions

The 19 Propositions

In Client-Centred Therapy, Chapter 11 (‘A theory of personality and behaviour’, pp.481-533), Carl Rogers sets out the base on which his person centred approach rests (pp.483-524). Although Rogers terms this base theoretical (p.482), it is also partly philosophical, for he lays out the humanistic, phenomenological and existential credentials of the approach. These credentials stand in contrast to analytical (e.g. Freud, Berne) and reductionist (Skinner, Watson) perspectives. Rogers proposes 19 propositions (axioms) from which much of his person centred theory hangs. These axioms are based both on his own clinical observations over many years of therapeutic work, and also rest on the work of many other writers, researchers and clinicians. Having spent much of his early career holding views opposed to these propositions (p.482), Rogers arrived at these conclusions because the evidence before him demonstrated to him the inadequacies of the paradigm in which he had been working. It is a feature of the person centred approach that attention and value are given to lived experience, and therefore it is unsurprising that these 19 propositions should have an empirical base. In this spirit, Rogers remained open to the possibility that his propositions could be shown to be inadequate and/or inaccurate. He was writing in a particular time and environment, and therefore some of his propositions may, from a 21st century lay British perspective, appear somewhat obscure. However, each proposition remains relevant to the person centred approach, even if a present-day counsellor in Manchester, Madrid or Montreal might express some of them differently.
This document presents Rogers’ propositions in close-to-their-original wording, along with the occasional gloss, based on Rogers’ own gloss. In addition, the document is punctuated with questions for thought and discussion that address issues relevant to the preceding proposition. Some of the questions appear to...