REINTEGRATION According to Rogers (1957), to overcome disintegration, rigidity, or discrepancies between real and ideal selves, a person must become aware of the distorted or denied experience. In other words, a person must allow the experience to occur
and accurately perceive the event. The woman described above must acknowledge to herself that she has average intelligence and accept and value herself rather than distort or deny her feelings. Rogers theorized that for reintegration to occur, the person must (a) reduce the COWs and (b) increase positive self-regard by obtaining unconditional positive regard from others. COWs lose their significance and ability to direct behavior when others accept the person as he or she is. In effect, individuals return to the OVP and begin to trust the inner self, thus becoming more open to experience and feelings (see Figure 6.3).
FIG U R E 6 . 3
A healing relationship. Only through a healing relationship that offers empathy, unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and acceptance—typically from a therapist or helper—can the self-concept be restored to congruence with actual experience, according to Rogers (1957). The self-concept returns to evaluations of actual experience based on the organismic valuing process (OVP), thereby facilitating self-actualization and the drive to become a “fully functioning person”—one who can realize the self’s maximum potentiality for independence, creativity, authentic expressions of feelings, and love. COW = conditions of worth.
A person can reintegrate without unconditional positive regard from another person if there is minimal threat to the self and the incongruity between self and experience is minor. Typically, however, individuals respond to years of having COWs imposed on them by becoming increasingly defensive. Once developed, defenses are difficult to let go because the person anticipates being vulnerable and hurt again. In effect, defenses are adaptive to help children cope, but fear and habit make them difficult to shed when they are no longer needed.
A helping relationship, then, is often crucial for overcoming defenses and allowing the person to return to trusting the OVP. A helping relationship allows the individual’s self-actualizing tendency to overcome the restrictions that were internalized in the COWs. In a helping relationship, the helper attempts to enter the client’s subjective world and understand the client’s internal frame of reference. The helper also tries to provide an experience in which the client is accepted and cared for without COWs. Thus, genuine acceptance from helpers begins to enable clients to accept themselves. This helping relationship does not necessarily need to
be from a professional helper, and in fact, people often seek healing relationships from supportive people in their environment (e.g., friends, relatives, rabbi, minister, priest).
Rogers (1951) believed that the helping relationship, in and of itself, produces growth in the client: “I launch myself into the therapeutic relationship having a hypothesis, or a faith, that my liking, my confidence, and my understanding of the other person’s inner world, will lead to a significant process of becoming” (p. 267). Rogerian helpers believe that most clients benefit greatly from being listened to, understood, and accepted. The power of this kind of relationship can be highly therapeutic and constructive. In the Rogerian approach to helping, the helper enters the therapeutic relationship with the facilitative attitudes of congruence (genuineness), unconditional positive regard, and empathy.