Thursday, March 01, 2007

2008 Carl Rogers Award from APA Division of Humanistic Psychology

Entry for 1 March 2007:

I was surprised, amused, touched and delighted a few days ago to learn that the Division of Humanistic Psychology of the American Psychological Association (more commonly referred to as “Division 32” by its members) is giving me the 2008 Carl Rogers Award for “outstanding contribution to the profession or practice of humanistic psychology.” I was informed that Art Bohart nominated me. According Division 32’s guidelines, the nominations are then voted on by the division’s executive committee at their January meeting. There are various categories of awards given, named after famous humanistic psychologists (Charlotte & Karl Buhler; Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May), with two given each year. The three most recent recipients of the Carl Rogers award are: Jules Seeman (2002), Constance T. Fischer (2005), and Maureen O’Hara (2007).

As part of receiving this award, I am to make a presentation at the Boston APA convention in August 2008. Why so far into the future? I don’t really know; what they said was that they had deadlines to meet, plaques to make etc. I have been trying to think of a good topic, but it is still pretty far in the future, which makes it more difficult to predict what will be make sense to me 18 months from now.

My emotional reactions to this award are positive but complex. First, I was very surprised to learn the news. Perhaps Art told me of his intention to nominate me some time back; if so, I had completely forgotten about it.

At the same time, I felt touched and delighted that they chosen me, because in many ways I have tried to have follow in Carl Rogers’ footsteps. Ever since I made a study of his life and work when I was second year graduate student at UCLA, I have been inspired by Rogers’ example as a person who combined theory, practice and research in this work; who had a deep love for the therapy process; who wished fervently to empower and understand others; who was intellectually ambitious and unafraid to expose his ideas to careful scientific scrutiny, and who kept on growing and changing throughout his life as his ideas and practices evolved through a series of stages. Laura Rice, Les Greenberg and I have always seen Process-Experiential therapy as a natural continuation of Rogers’ approach, as the next stage.

Finally, I have found a certain delicious irony in being given this award, in that I now work in a Rogerian-based training centre, where I often feel here that I am regarded with some suspicion by the more purist Person-Centred therapy types. After all, I ask (open) questions, give (awareness) homework and occasionally or rarely even offer reassurance and tentative interpretations. I find nondirectivity to be a simplistic concept: What kinds? how much? etc. And I certainly don't see it as a necessary or even a sufficient condition for being person-centred.

But here I am: recipient of the 2008 Carl Rogers Award. Cool! I will try my best to live up to the award!

1 comment:

Mathias Dekeyser said...

Hm ... this prize may be somewhat unfortunate for Division 32 as they are now probably considered a little ignorant by "the more purist Person-Centred therapy types." :-)

Anyway, it is important that good work gets praised; certainly your work deserves it. Congratulations !!!