17. CongruenceCongruence refers to the state of harmony that exists when there is no discrepancy between the person’s experiencing and his or her self-concept.
In Carl Rogers’s view, the ideal condition for development of a healthy self-concept and movement toward becoming fully functioning, is unconditional positive regard—a deep and genuine caring by others, uncontaminated by judgments or evaluations of our thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (Rogers & Sanford, 1984, p. 1379). With unconditional positive regard, the self-concept carries no conditions of worth, there is congruence between the true self and experience, and the person is psychologically healthy. Rogers believed that parents and others can establish creativity-fostering environments, with rules that encourage children to be curious, self-reliant, and respectful of themselves and others.
Rogers believed that when we are guided by the expectations of others that run counter to our innate evaluations, problems occur. In this case, our social selves prevent our getting in touch with our true selves and actual feelings, and movement toward actualization is hindered. Congruence between the true self and organismic experiencing leads to accurate symbolization of experiences and positive growth; incongruence leads to inaccurate or distorted symbolization, psychological maladjustment, and vulnerability.
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