Q: I have heard of the work of Carl Rogers on personality and have admired it considerably. How is your approach similar or different?
A: Carl Rogers and Yukio Ishizuka agree that the goal is Self-Actualization
Carl Rogers is renown for his work on Self-Actualization, which he viewed as an internal biological force to develop one’s capacity to the fullest. Human beings, according to Rogers, strive for optimal health and require a resilience in the face of adversity. Such resilience is fostered or nurtured by unconditional positive regard (a form of unconditional love) which can be experienced as a child from the relationship with one’s parents.
With unconditional positive regard, the individual has a capacity to discover his ‘true self’ what he or she is meant to become. This ‘true self’ can be different from the ‘ideal self’ imposed by society or outside expectations including one’s parents. When the gap between one’s ‘true self’ and ‘ideal self’ becomes too great or incongruent, the person’s defenses may be triggered.
Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, like Rogers, has developed a theory based on self-actualization, in which the individual strives to develop optimal health in three spheres of psychological existence: self, intimacy and achievement. Like Rogers, growth is unlimited. Growth in the Lifetrack model is frustrated by fear and can be experienced in the form of stress symptoms such as anxiety, anger, physical symptoms, depression or psychosis.
In Rogers’ work, self-actualization is a natural process. At the same time, Rogers argues that a caretaker is needed to nurture positive regard. In other words, unconditional positive regard is necessary for self-actualization. In this sense, it may not be entirely automatic or may at times need a strong boost.
In Ishizuka’s work, fear prohibits the natural state of man to be self-actualizing or automatic. While we may each desire love or success to be happy, fear impedes us to develop to our fullest potential. As much as we may want to love or be loved, we also develop a fear of losing love through death, deception, illusion or disappointment. Hence, Ishizuka confronts such fear directly by immediately working on a close intimate relationship where the desire and need for love is important. In adults, this is usually found in the couple relationship.
Of the three psychological needs (self, intimacy and achievement), Ishizuka argues that inter-dependent intimacy (couple relationship) in the lay person has the greatest potential for the transformation of the individual towards self-actualization. His life’s work and therapy is based on the process of using breakthrough intimacy to trigger fundamental human change in all spheres of life: self, intimacy and achievement.
A: Both theories of Self-Actualization are primarily clinical based from intensive work with patients
Ishizuka’s theory, like that of Rogers, is primarily a clinical one, based on years of experience with patients. Like the humanist Carl Rogers, the positive mental health Lifetrack model was inspired, developed, and tested in daily clinical practice with demanding patients. It evolved from the need to help patients with their lives improve their overall psychological adjustment. Patients inspired the model of positive mental health, put it to the test, and challenged it daily for the last 35 years.
A: Both Carl Rogers and Yukio Ishizuka’s model understand the role of an effective therapist towards promoting change, but Ishizuka pushes it further.
Much like Rogers’ approach, Lifetrack therapy recognizes that the relationship with the therapist is an essential lever for change. For Rogers the effectiveness of the therapist depended on his or her ability for congruence (genuineness, honesty), empathy, and respect (unconditional positive regard). A good therapist could aid in developing unconditional positive regard, bolstering the individuals path towards self-actualization.
Lifetrack, agrees with Rogers. However, Lifetrack therapy goes a bit further in that the therapist can talk as much as 70% of the time. In addition, Dr. Yukio Ishizuka believes that a close interdependent relationship, such as that with a partner or spouse, is even more critical to fundamental change and long-term well-being than a therapist.
To put it in Rogerian terms, unconditional positive regard is bolstered most effectively through an inter-dependent couple relationship where each individual learns to accept the other ‘as is.’ This fundamental human relationship has the capacity to change the individual and nurture positive regard far more than an intervention by a therapist.
Hence, in Lifetrack therapy, rather than make the therapist the object of the close relationship, the Lifetrack approach helps the patient to become significantly closer to a person who can stay in his or her life long after therapy has ended. When a partner is available, this process may begin from the first or second session. When no partner is present, the individual is encouraged to be open to the possibility of becoming closer to someone in three adult dimensions of intimacy (emotional, intellectual-social, and physical-sexual). The reason is simple: transformation through intimacy creates the greatest lever for fundamental change. It seems to be in the Lifetrack experience, the fastest and most effective route.
Breakthrough Intimacy: Most Effective Route for Unconditional Positive Regard
The objective of the Lifetrack therapist is to be so successful that he or she can soon exit the picture. The therapist succeeds when he or she has helped the patient experience a level of closeness far beyond a previous best with an important person who remains in the patient’s life long after the therapist is gone. For this reason, the therapist often works with a couple. Under optimal conditions (one in the couple is depressed, there is an effective therapist who can work with both, and the ‘well’ partner is willing to help), a breakthrough in all spheres of life far beyond a previous best level (self, intimacy and achievement) takes 3-6 months.
This breakthrough intimacy, provides a unique opportunity for a transformation in personality structure. Both in the couple emerge changed as they work together to improve each of the three spheres beyond a previous best: self, intimacy and achievement.
In Rogerian terms, change has occurred due to a boost of unconditional positive regard found in a happy adult couple relationship. This unconditional positive regard is healthier and longer lasting in impact than the role that even the best therapist could temporarily provide.
Copyright © 2010 Lifetrack Corporation
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Carl Rogers Psychology
A Japanese Harvard trained psychiatrist discusses Carl Rogers Psychology, Lifetrack therapy, unconditional positive regard, and the therapist relationship.