More on Congruence

A fundamental basis of Rogers’s theory, so to speak the basis of the capability of self-organization, is the hypothesized “actualizing tendency”. It is described in the 4th of the 19 propositions of Rogers’s Theory of Personality and Behavior (1951): “The organism has one basic tendency and striving - to actualize, maintain and expand the experiencing organism.” The term that has most often been used for this directional tendency toward wholeness is the “actualizing tendency”. It is the inherent tendency of the organism to develop all its capacities in ways which serve to maintain or enhance the organism. It involves development towards the differentiation of organs and functions, expansion in terms of growth, expansion of effectiveness through the use of tools, expansion and enhancement through reproduction. It is development toward autonomy and at the same time it appears to head in the direction of socialization, as humans have a need for positive regard. It should be noted that this basic actualizing tendency is the only motive which is postulated in this theoretical system and that it is the organism as a whole which exhibits this tendency.

The key of psychological growth is to bring a person in contact with his actualizing tendency and a person that wants to help need to keep the relationship free of evaluation and judgment. This permits the other person to recognize his locus of evaluation, the center of responsibility, within himself. The internal locus of evaluation – a construct of valuing within the individual himself – “means that [a person] is the center of the valuing process, the evidence being supplied by his own senses. When the locus of evaluation resides in others, their judgment as to the value of an object or experience becomes the criterion of value for the individual” (Rogers 1959, p. 210). Rogers was convinced that an implication of the view he has been presenting was “that the basic nature of the human being, when functioning freely, is constructive and trustworthy. For me this is an inescapable conclusion from a quarter-century of experience in psychotherapy. When we are able to free the individual from defensiveness, so that he is open to the wide range of his own needs, as well as the wide range of environmental and social demands, his reactions may be trusted to be positive, forward-moving, constructive. We do not need to ask who will socialize him, for one of his own deepest needs is for affiliation and communication with others. As he becomes more fully himself, he will become more realistically socialized” (Rogers, 1961, p. 194).