Psychotherapy and personality change: Co-ordinated research studies in the client-centered approach
Hulett Jr., J. E. (1955). Psychotherapy and personality change: Co-ordinated research studies in the client-centered approach (book review). American Sociological Review, 20(3), 369-370.
According to this book review, the book Psychotherapy and personality change: Co-ordinated research studies in the client-centered approach discusses a four-year research project on Rogerian, or client-centered, psychotherapy. The book is divided into seventeen chapters, complete with eleven reports, two case studies, and a chapter of conclusions. The reviewed book, written largely by Carl Rogers and his team at the University of Chicago, tracks the progress of their patients using objective measures based on “changes in self-perception, changes in the total personality make-up as determined by the TAT test, changes in the client’s attitude toward others, and changes in scores on an emotional maturity scale” (369). Hulett notes that while the book is carefully written, few theories outside the Rogerian approach are examined, and it seems to rely on generalizations and assumptions made about human personalities as a whole—for instance, that clients are receptive to a warm demeanor from their psychotherapists, which ultimately leads clients into generalized introspection. Moreover, the structure of the psychotherapy protocol suggests that there may have been more than just “warmth” experienced during the examined sessions (for example, some of the sessions seemed to exhibit pushiness). Another identified drawback is the apparent lack of a deep discussion about various social-cultural factors in the study.
As this is an early book review, there is limited discussion on methods. The reviewer, does, however, note that the study’s lack of attention to socio-cultural factors renders the Rogerian approach that the book is “class- and culture-bound” (370). However, the reviewer does suggest some alternative authors who take such cultural considerations into account. Specifically, the reviewer states, “An alternative and superior theory without these defects would be one derived from the general Cooley-Mead frame of reference, somewhat after the fashion of the work of such men as H. Gough, Norman Cameron, L. Cottrell, and others” (370).
This book review contributes to the knowledge on psychotherapy as it seems to serve as a relatively early symbolic interactionist critique of a major psychological method: the Rogerian approach. The reviewer (Hulett) suggests that, as addressed in the book, the Rogerian approach may be too limited in terms of addressing socio-cultural factors—in other words, that psychologists practicing this approach favor individual aspects too much over group aspects. Interestingly, Hulett offers a series of early alternative approaches, which may be more inclusive of the missing emphasis on socio-cultural influences. He especially recommends the Cooley-Mead reference frame as an improvement.