• Carl Roger’s Person Centered Therapy in “The Gloria Film”

    This is a clip of Carl Roger’s explaining his Person Centered Therapy approach in “The Gloria Film.” Person centered therapy focuses on the client, and involves unconditional positive regard,empathy, and genuineness. Shostrom’s 1965 documentary entitled “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy,” otherwise known as the “Gloria Film,” had one subject, Gloria, a 30 yr. old recently divorced woman, attending sessions with three different therapists who employed different treatment approaches: Carl Rogers using person or client-centered therapy, Fritz Perl and the gestalt approach, and finally Albert Ellis with rational emotive therapy. The differences between the sessions can be explained by the effect of the interaction between the therapist and Gloria. In the film, Gloria is interviewed about her reactions to the sessions with the three different therapists.

    Of the three sessions with the therapists, the one with Carl Rogers is the most written about. In Roger’s session, Gloria speaks about her concern over her daughter’s well-being if she invites men to stay at her house. Even though her conversation with Carl Rogers was only a half hour in length, in a debriefing (follow-up interviews), Gloria reported finding it to be very meaningful for her, even life-changing. After the film premiered, Gloria continued to keep in contact with Rogers through 15 years of written correspondence! Rogers was truly touched after hearing her positive impressions of the session, and wrote about his experiences with Gloria in a 1984 article. Rogers wrote that he and Gloria “truly met as persons…it is good to know that even one half hour can make a difference in a life”(Dolliver, Williams, & Gold, 1980, p.141)

    In the conversation with Gloria, Rogers expressed unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuineness. Rogers, with the implementation of these three conditions for change, aided Gloria to have a better idea of her problem, and in her own words, helped her “to recognize my potential-my value as a human being” (Dolliver et al., 1980, p.141). Through the use of Roger’s client-centered approach, Gloria’s self-regard increased; she “not only felt heard, but also empowered, reinforcing her ability to change” (Wickman & Campbell, 2003, p. 182).

    In the post-therapy debriefing, Gloria compared her sessions with Ellis, Perls, and Rogers. Initially, her impression was that she got the most out of Perls’s conversation, even though she encountered the most in-session conflicts with him. When interviewed 13 years later, in retrospect, Gloria reported that Rogers helped her the most, and was the best fit for her. In her article, Gloria (1980) stated that “I felt whole, intact, in other words, a person with Rogers” (p.141).  



    Dolliver, R. H., Williams, E., & Gold, D. C. (1980). The art of Gestalt therapy or: What are you   doing with your feet now? Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 17, 136-142.

    Gloria. (1980). Comments on the interview with Perls. Psychotherapy: Therapy, Research and      Practice, 17, 140-141

    Wickman, S. A., &  Campbell, C.  (2003). An analysis of how Carl Rogers enacted client- centered conversation with Gloria.  Journal of Counseling and Development, 81 (2),  178-184.


    Author: Dr. Masha Godkin,Psy.D, MFT  is a professor of counseling psychology, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Ca. with an Online Therapy Practice, as well as a former child actor. One of her specialties is in addictive behavior and counseling those in the performing art professions. Visit  http://www.onlinetherapywith-dr-masha.com to learn about the Online Therapy service options that are available.


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