I watched the famous “Gloria” films this weekend, more properly known as Three Approaches to Psychotherapy. Gloria, the patient, generously agreed to have filmed sessions with each of the three great psychotherapists of the 1960s: Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and Albert Ellis. It must have been quite a day for her!
Carl Rogers actively worked to wrest control of counseling from the medical monopoly established by Freud and Jung, opening the work to psychologists, social workers, and executive coaches. While coaching is distinct from therapy, there is wisdom that applies equally to both. The originators of executive coaching were very familiar with the work of Rogers, Perls, and Ellis. Watching this film, you can still see their influence on today’s coaching methods.
I was particularly impressed (and affirmed) by Carl Rogers’s summary of the necessary conditions for a successful client session. He spoke entirely about the relationship between the therapist and the client:
- Am I able to be real, that is, genuine and transparent with the client?
- Do I prize the client and fully accept her, so that I experience spontaneous, non-possessive love?
- Am I able to understand the client’s inner world, to see the situation through her eyes [so you can help the client see in a new way, as distinct from “getting in the boat” with him or “buying into his story” by simply agreeing with him.]
Useful standards for anyone committed to having a conversation that matters.
Gloria initially chose Perls over Rogers as her preferred therapist, despite her ambivalence about their therapy demonstration. However, she grew to regret her decision and concluded that she would have had more to gain from Rogers, with whom she did feel a genuine connection. In later years, she struck up a correspondence and a friendship with Rogers and his family.
Other videos of Carl Rogers’ therapy are here.