A group of us were discussing our website one afternoon at a Center for the Studies retreat. We all agreed that the information on our site did not really capture what the essence of CSP is to us. This and the following two sections are our our attempt to convey our excitement about the experience we share when we come together, or when we relate to others in the deeply personal way that grows out of the Person Centered Approach (PCA).
We also want to give context to Center for Studies of the Person in relation to other PCA related organizations, and to the position PCA occupies in Carl Rogers’ work.
In doing this, we tried to find a language that would better convey an experience that, like the Tao, has to be lived to be understood - that words cannot capture or contain.
Center for Studies of the Person was founded by Carl Rogers and associates in 1967. Its establishment marked the transition of Rogers’ theory of human interaction from its application in therapy—Client Centered Therapy or CCT—to the broader realm of human relationships. He called this latter focus the Person Centered Approach or PCA, to distinguish it from its application in therapy. Center for Studies of the Person was the organization where Rogers spent the last 20 years of his professional life, and PCA was his focus during this period.
Although the principles of PCA were the same as CCT, the shift was one from applying the core conditions which Rogers found were essential for growth in the field of therapy, to the general arena of human relationships and interaction. Carl changed the name to PCA because he was working with people who were not his clients. PCA is the same model, but it has broader applications than CCT.
PCA crosses cultures—it is studied and practiced today in Europe, Latin America, the US, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. It works wherever people come together.
Rogers didn’t discover something new—the components of the theory were always in existence. His contribution was in the discovery process as he uncovered, put together and codified these principles.
The encounter group movement was essential for the development of his thought as it evolved into the Person Centered Approach, and is the basis for understanding how we work and interact with one another at Center for Studies of the Person. Encounter is an important part of our process as we seek to be with one another in an authentic, empathic, understanding and accepting manner.
Center for Studies of the Person is not as much concerned with preserving the purity of Rogers teachings as it with providing a space where members can explore for themselves the richness and complexity of what it is to be fully human, to grow and uncover their humanness. Members are free to explore what the Person Centered Approach means for them, to apply it in their professional or personal lives.
This makes our community a place where we can feel listened to and understood, express ourselves openly and authentically and feel fully accepted for who we are. It is a place to be together, to take risks.
It is about accepting each other as we are, as being o.k. with that, not needing or trying to change anything about the other or about ourselves. Once I am o.k. with myself and can accept who I am, the process is free to continue and change is the inevitable outcome. Acceptance of ourselves and others opens the door to change.
We are a community based on Person. Person is almost a-social, non-social. It is to be unafraid of the social consequences of what you are doing, of who you are being. It is a risk—when you are fully authentic people are critical and judgmental of you if they don’t agree or if you are seen as different or threatening. Rogers called the person forth from the nexus of society—we can make a different society based on the person and not on our roles.
We value the intrinsic worth in ourselves and others while at the same time managing to have fun—laughing, joking, playing together—completely relaxed with one another, not threatened. We seek to be with others without judging, accepting them as they are and for who they are.
We don’t know what we are going to get, but whatever happens when we are together is powerful, growth producing. What we contribute is to be fully ourselves - that is the best we can contribute, the most we have to offer—that is sufficient in itself.