How is Freud different from Carl Rogers? Did the gestalt theory influence Rogers? What is the essence of the person-centered therapy?
Freud and Rogers both hoped to help patients who were suffering from mental illnesses, but they approached this goal from very different perspectives. Freud's theories suggested that human behavior was motivated by conflicts and drives stemming from the basest human instincts (the death drive and the sex drive). He believed that anxiety was created when those instincts were in conflict with societal expectations and were suppressed. Freud believed that in order for a person to become free of anxiety, they would have to realize these conflicts in their conscious mind and acknowledge them.
Rogers, on the other hand, saw psychological suffering from a humanistic lens. He believed that humans were basically good, and he thought that providing an environment of "unconditional positive regard" could help the patient realize their fullest potential. In contrast to Freud's theories, the humanistic approach saw outer influences, not inner influences, as corrupting.
Gestalt psychology is related to both of these perspectives in different ways. Gestaltists looked at each person as a dynamic "whole" made up of many parts that work together to create one's identity. Gestalt psychologists may have believed in Freud's theories of personality formation, but they did not focus on digging up unconscious conflicts; rather, they focused on the patient's behaviors in the therapy room. Gestalt theory is related to humanism in that the person is viewed as a whole influenced by internal and external factors.
Carl Rogers "humanistic psychology" is much less authoritarian and based more on the conscious mind than Freudian psychology. Freudians are much more directive in their therapy and tend to focus on unconscious motivation when patients are in therapy. Rogers believed in a close, personal relationship with patients and allowed patients themselves to choose the direction of therapy. His philosophy seems to have been influenced more by the theories of Carl Jung and Otto Rank than either Freud or the Gestalt Theorists. Rogerian therapy is focused more on the individual as a whole that a collection of units that Gestaltists believe can be mapped and then put into patterns and studied. For more information, see the links below.
Freudian theory or psycho analytics, is much more rooted in understanding how the stages of life influence and impact a person's life. Additionally, Freudian theory focuses on the id, ego, and superego, which are the three levels of consciousness. These three levels influence behavior in different ways, to which a person may not always be aware. While creating rapport between the therapist and the patient is discussed in Freudian theory, this is stressed to a much higher degree in Roger's Humanistic approach.
Roger's focused on building a relationship with his patient, because he saw it as a way to allow a more open road of communication and healing. There are three parts to building a relationship which are: unconditional positive regard, empathy, and congruence. This means that the therapist does not look down on the patient or client for anything they may say during their session. Instead, they hold them in the same regard (unconditional positive regard) as before learning any new information. The therapist shows empathy for what the client or patient is saying. The last tenant of Roger's humanistic approach is congruence, which is where the therapist is open and honest with the client.
Roger's also allowed the patient to follow their own road during the therapy session. Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy, focused on what the person was feeling in the moment. While Roger's would focus on the past or future, Perls would only focus on what was happening in the moment and how it made the person feel.