This essay will describe and reflect upon the process of developing my self-awareness through the insights offered by person -centred theory on self-relationships. Firstly, I will analyse my relationship with my biological father and how its shaped my self -concept and conditions of worth. Secondly, I will review my relationship with my foster father where empathy and unconditional positive regard allowed be to become secure for a short period of time. Thirdly, I will discuss my relationship with the father of my children which helped shape my self-worth and locus of evolution. I will conclude with my personal statement on person centred theory how it has entwined through my journey with my relationships.
Person centered approach was originally coined by Carl Rogers who was a humanist psychologist he believed that when people are in the right environment they are able to grow and develop and formulate their own self-actualisation. (Rogers, 1967).
Relationships for me are the pinnacle of how human beings become who they are and how they view others. My experiences with people that weave in and out of my personal journey have influenced my self-concept and how I view past and present relationships in different places I have encountered along the way. Merry (2002) states that everyone self-actualises as we have our own self to look after, it is not perfect because it is based on the environment we live and the experiences we gain alongside other people that we develop relationships with. Pescitelli (1996) stated that the self develops through engaging with other people, it also shows that the self is a set of characteristics which is based on their values of social experiences they live in (Pescitelli, 1996). I can understand the relationship development through my relationship with my biological father, as it was very turbulent, and it limited my growth and my self-development into a secure and happy childhood. My sense of self was distorted through the lack of empathy and affection, also, by frightful memories of my biological father because as a child my father was nonchalant, and I lacked physical and emotional growth. Furthermore, the word love was never given or reciprocated. Conditions of worth is when a person tries to reinforce their behaviour on another person through verbal communication or actions. (Rogers, 1967). My conditions of worth were minimised to some extent I still lack self-esteem and I tend to criticise myself. My lowered self-esteem stems from how my parents especially my biological father interacted with me and the verbal and chastised abuse that became part of my childhood and early teenage years. I was made to clean the house from the age of five years old, also, reaching secondary school age my chores included cooking, cleaning, and tending to my siblings. I would make sure I cleaned everything in the hope that I would gain some acknowledgement. My conditions of worth were linked to cleaning in order to get fed, also hoping to prevent abuse and ultimately be able to sit with the family which was the biggest treat in my life at that time. Merry (2002) states that through experience our behaviour is accepted and valued when we behave the way other people want us too (Merry, 2002). The only time my biological father showed any form of limited empathy and genuineness was when he was under the influence of alcohol. Yet, looking back he was actually being incongruent as his behaviour was not genuine because of the intoxication. Psychologist Carl Rogers (1967) states that incongruence is when you do or say something which you do not feel or mean (Rogers, 1967).
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In contrast my foster father was very different in the way he nurtured me, I was fostered at the age of six. It was a very stressful time and moving from one house to another was daunting. However, my foster father showed empathy by the way he cared for me, for a brief moment in my life I felt loved and secure, and there was communication between us. He was very warm and congruent with undivided patience. Rogers (1967) states that, congruence has three levels, experience, awareness and communication. He discusses that feelings people experience are available to him or her and that they are able to live with these feelings they have, and which allows them to communicate in an appropriate way (Rogers,1967) This reflected my foster father in that he was transparent with me, I found this new relationship quite difficult to understand at first as it was such a contrast to my biological father. My foster father demonstrated empathy through showing warmth whilst understanding my feelings of sadness and confusion, besides listening and more specifically showing unconditional positive regard. My foster father spoke with care and I felt like he fixed what was broken inside my soul emotionally and mentally. At the age of seven he taught me how to speak, read and write. Professor of Psychotherapy Keith Tudor (2011) discusses that Carl Rogers places empathy beside warmth and unconditional positive regard, these are the two behaviours that are needed to create an atmosphere that is non-threatening, it is also part of the core conditions. Moreover, a person who feels understood and accepted will not feel so alone as a result the person can become more related with people (Tudor, 2011). I felt understood and not isolated by my foster father and because of this, I therefore learnt to enjoy childhood even if it was for a limited period of time.
Another significant past relationship that contributed to my growth and confidence is related to my children’s father. The first three years of the relationship were very loving and secure. My ex-partner showed a deep depth of commitment and respect towards me, he displayed the same attributes as my foster father. There was a genuineness towards me which I appreciated which in turn help build my confidence, and my self-esteem became positive, also, being a mother enhanced my wellbeing and self-worth. My children’s father took care of me and provided the security of a family home which I deep down longed for. My actualising tendency allowed me to able to become a whole person and enhanced my cognitive and psychical developments, my emotional wellbeing became calmer and I could see I was developing within myself. My external locus of evaluation trusted and valued him. His patience and being able to make me laugh was an asset in contrast from my past relationships with my biological father. This allowed my actualising tendency to develop within my home setting and it motivated my development within my self and around me. According to Casemore (2011) actualising tendency allows you to live in that present time while life experiences occur in that moment instead of dwelling on the past we can start to trust ourselves with new beginnings (Casemore, 2011). Actualising tendency means the person is whole and can be associated with the human growth which is personal (Merry, 2002). I can categorically state that my actualising tendency did support my growth within myself as I trusted and loved my ex-partner for the way he was with me, he acknowledged what I in my past childhood and teenage years. I began to trust my self-worth being in this journey of motherhood and being a partner. Pescitelli (1996) maintained that in 1965 Carl Rogers stated that the term I is considered to be the most sincere honesty about man. The importance of word “I” is solely about you and your journey and that is what I felt in this relationship, my external locus of evaluation allowed me to accept myself I realised I mattered. I felt my ex-partner was congruent and free to be himself with me and there was an acceptance of how I was as an individual. Whereas previously my locus of evaluation was based on how I should behave to an extent and how to conduct myself around people who continuously judged or criticised me. Casemore (2011) states that locus of evolution is when people judge and criticise a person’s manner or expect to behave in a certain way, subconsciously the persons begins to behave in that way even if it is not positive. In addition, the person subconsciously starts to rely on people to make decision for them (Casemore, 2011). I found I did this in the past and manged to think positively when I was in this relationship, until I was left seven months pregnant with a three old daughter with debts and bills to pay. My self-worth was shattered, and I resumed back into my chid like self. I currently see a counsellor and have started to address my past relationships and how it has affected my self-worth and confidence. This is allowing me to develop into a more positive and stronger person.
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In conclusion with my relationships through person centred theory, I do agree with Carl Rogers philosophy of the humanistic personal value and ethics. My journey with my biological father taught me resilience and strength and your conditions of worth were to clean in order to get fed. Whereas my foster father taught me about how human beings can be kind and nurturing, when you receive empathy you can smile. On the other hand, my relationship with my children’s father was of congruence that turned into incongruence which affected my behaviour towards other people in my life. Moving forward, my counsellor is facilitating in my self-growth and confidence building, where I can become more positive about myself in the future.
- Casemore, R. (2011). Person-centred counselling in a nutshell. London: SAGE.
- Merry, T. (2002). Learning and being in person-centred counselling. Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.
- Pescitelli.D (1996) retrieved from http://pandc.ca/?cat=carl_rogers&page=rogerian_theory
- Rogers, C. (1967). On becoming a person. London: Constable.
- Tudor, K. (2011). Empathy: A Concretive Perspective. Transactional Analysis Journal, 41(4), 322-335. doi: 10.1177/036215371104100409
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