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Carl Rogers and the Mental Health Movement

In the 1940s and 1950s, Carl Rogers developed a therapy technique he called non-directive. Rogers promoted the use of a trusting relationship to enable clients to discover their true needs, feelings, and desires. The name of this new therapy evolved from non-directive to client-centered, then finally to person-centered. Rogers discovered that if he could establish a trusting relationship with his clients, they could openly confront their issues and make better decisions. He found that this therapeutic relationship could be established if he was able to understand and empathize nonjudgmentally with his clients and convey this understanding to them. Rogers believed that counseling was not just for mentally ill people but was a therapeutic technique to help all people adjust to normal developmental conditions (Gerig, 2014). His theories were embraced by the educational establishment and by the growing ranks of counselors.

Albert Ellis believed that many mental and emotional problems stem from what people themselves think and do. He found that many patients "catastrophize” situations and blow them way out of proportion. He reasoned that if he could train them to confront and challenge their irrational beliefs, they could lead healthier and happier lives. When Ellis was in graduate school, he was shy and afraid to ask women to go out with him. One day on campus he forced himself to ask 100 women for a date. Although not one accepted, he realized that his world was not shattered and in fact found he had new self-confidence. Ellis and others developed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is one of the most popular therapies used by professional counselors (Wedding & Corsini, 2014).

Today professional counselors recognize the importance of helping all people reach their human potential, through the use of multiple theories and counseling settings.

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