Active Listening According to Carl R. Rogers

Successful Listening in Professional Conversations and the Knowledge Society

Seminar Paper, 2010

10 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. Introduction

2. Rogers Model of Client-centered Psychotherapy
2.1. Attitude and Role of the Counselor
2.2. Reorganization of self as the main goal of counseling

3. The Role of Active Listening in Interpersonal Communication
3.1. Dr. Carl Rogers’ Listening Model

4. The Role of Active Listening in the Knowledge Society


1. Introduction

In a changing society based on knowledge and the spreading of knowledge, interpersonal communication in everyday life plays a major role. But even in dealing with the professional consultation and treatment of clients who need psychological or pedagogic supervision, communication and conversation are important to an extent that may not be obvious to everyone. In order to generate a successful course of therapy that fits the case it is not enough to internalize and use the principles of professional pedagogical-psychological work with clients and put them into practice. Dr. Carl Rogers developed a model that constitutes a kind of guide to conducting a therapeutic talk in practice. First of all, special attention is brought to the personal attitude of the therapist towards the client. Then, Rogers focuses on the erroneous perception that listening is a passive task for the therapist. According to Rogers, listening needs to be done in an active manner and sensitivity, empathy, and attention to the client are considered the essential and qualifying characteristics of the therapist in their role as a moderator.

The direction Dr. Carl Rogers’ thoughts take is different from the commonly held view that communication and especially listening are processes that are executed automatically, without conscious intention. In contrast, he develops a model of listening where listening is an active task that is equal in importance to the sending of information.

First in this paper, an overview of Dr. Carl Rogers’ client-centered counseling is given. Then, focus is put on the importance of active listening, of understanding, and of attention paid to the client. As a conclusion, a professional approach to interpersonal communication for knowledge management in today’s world will be explained and the perspective is widened to include general conversations beyond the therapeutic context. As a summary, this paper will discuss to what extent listening actually plays a major part in the communication process and where the limits of practical and professional application of Rogers’ concept are.

2. Rogers Model of Client-centered Psychotherapy

2.1. Attitude and Role of the Counselor

As is usually done in psychotherapy, Dr. Carl Rogers attributes the role of a guide to the counselor, who should lead the conversation to the psychologically and therapeutically intended direction. A humanist concept of humanity forms the basis of the person and client-centered talk therapy and is reflected in every action the counselor takes. According to Rogers, the individuality and uniqueness of each person is to be regarded as top priority in every single observation and every conversation. In addition, client-centered talk therapy assumes that every person is inherently good and inherently motivated to work towards growth, health, adjustment, and self-actualization. “It is the inherent tendency of the organism to develop all its capacities in ways that serve to maintain and enhance the organism.“[1]

This motivation should be awakened in the client-counselor-relationship; it should be enhanced and supported.

“The therapist […] soon learns that the development of the way of looking upon people which underlies this therapy is a continuing process, closely related to the therapist’s own struggle for personal growth and integration. […] Perhaps it would summarize the point being made to say that a person practicing client-centered therapy can treat the client with respect only if this respect is an essential part of their self image; […].“[2]

With respect to the person-centered approach to conversation, Rogers acknowledges that an early and obvious knowledge and deciphering of the core problem in the analyzed behavior of the client can be problematic for the client-therapist-relationship, and therefore instructs the counselor to stay rather guarded and interact accordingly.

It can be stated that the counselor takes on the role of a guide in the conversation but by keeping in mind the humanistic principles, by respecting the individuality of the client, and by a reserved behavior in dealing with the core problems the therapist initiates and influences the client’s thinking and action. These processes can be summed up to form a basic goal of client-centered talk therapy: the reorganization of self. [3]


[1] Rogers in: Cochrane/ Holloway, 1982, S. 31.

[Orig.:"Dies ist die innewohnende Tendenz des Organismus, all seine Kapazitäten auf die Arten zu entwickeln, die dazu dienen, den Organismus aufrechtzuerhalten oder zu verbessern.“]

[2] Rogers 1951, S. 36

[ „Orig.: Der Therapeut […] lernt bald, daß die Weiterentwicklung der Art und Weise, den Menschen zu betrachten, die dieser Therapie zugrunde liegt, ein fortlaufender Prozeß ist, der in enger Beziehung zu seinem eigenen Bemühen um persönliche Entwicklung und Vervollkommnung steht. […] Vielleicht ließe sich diese Behauptung in dem Satz zusammenfassen, daß eine Person bei Anwendung der klient-bezogenen Therapie ihren Respekt vor anderen nur soweit durchführen kann, wie dieser Respekt ein wesentlicher Bestandteil ihres Persönlichkeitsbildes ist; […].“]

[3] See Rogers 1951, S.36-38.

Excerpt out of 10 pages


Active Listening According to Carl R. Rogers
Successful Listening in Professional Conversations and the Knowledge Society
Free University of Berlin
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active, listening, according, carl, rogers, successful, professional, conversations, knowledge, society
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Philipp Nawroth (Author), 2010, Active Listening According to Carl R. Rogers, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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