We all have heroes. People we admire, an object of adoration, emulation.
We categorize them in genres: Sports heroes. Personal heroes. Spiritual heroes. Heroes within our given profession or maybe family.
It was in Theories of Counseling, a Master’s level class with Professor Dr. Walter Moody, that I first met my therapy hero: Carl Rogers. It was upon his theories that I based my final paper and class presentation.
Why a hero? He was simple, straight-forward, authentic, and believed in the fundamental goodness of people. He believed all people have an inherent desire within themselves to become the best that they could be. He proposed client-centered therapy in which the therapist merely guides the client in finding his/her own solicitations. I believed, accepted, and vowed to practice all of the above.
But there is more. I bonded with Rogerian theory over an idea that he is perhaps best known for within the psychological community: unconditional positive regard. No matter what a person says or does, the therapist remains accepting. Non-judgmental.
The concept warmed my soul. I was unaware of how much this young psychology student, a product of divorced family in a fundamentalist world in 1977 longed for this very message.
Unconditional acceptance, a safe environment in which to share, all people are good. No shame. No guilt. It was a breath of fresh air and I claimed him as my hero. And I still do.
As we grow and study, we learn that even our heroes don’t have all of the answers. Throughout my years of practice, I have added much to what I learned from Carl Rogers, but unconditional positive regard will always be a foundation for my practice. I deserve it. My clients deserve it. Human beings deserve it.