Jan 30, 2014

The Characteristics of a Helping Relationship

image via Wikipedia.com
In almost every phase of our lives - at home, at school, at work - we find ourselves under the rewards and punishments of external judgments. "That's good;" "that's naughty;" "that's worth an A;" "that's failure;" "that's good counseling;" "that's poor counseling." Such judgments are a part of our lives from infancy to old age. I believe they have a certain social usefulness to institutions and organizations such as schools and professors. Like everyone else, I find myself all too often making such evaluations. But in my experience, they do not make for personal growth, and hence I do not believe that they are a part of a helping relationship. Curiously enough, a positive evaluation is as threatening in the long run as a negative one, since to inform someone that she is good implies that you also have the right to tell her she is bad. So I have come to feel that the more I can keep a relationship free of judgement and evaluation, the more this will permit the other person to reach the point where she recognizes that the locus of evaluation, the center of responsibility, lies within herself. The meaning and value of her experience is, in the last analysis, something which is up to her, and no amount of external judgement can alter this. So I should like to work toward a relationship in which I am not, even in my own feelings, evaluating her. This I believe can set her free to be a self-responsible person. 

Can I meet this other individual as a person who is in the process of becoming, or will I be bound by her past and mine?

If in my encounter with her, I am dealing with her as an immature child, an ignorant student, a neurotic personality or a psychopath, each of these concepts of mine limits what she can be in the relationship...If I accept her as a process of becoming, then I am doing what I can to confirm or make her real potentialities.

Written by Carl R. Rogers, Ph.D., 
Excerpts reprinted with permission of the author in the Parent Effectiveness Training workbook