How do I develop a self-concept

The development of the self-concept according to Carl Rogers

This article provides an overview of the "development of the self-concept" according to Carl Rogers. Keywords include a tendency to update, self-concept, incongruence, etc.

Founder of the person-centered concept

  • Carl Rogers, lived 1902 to 1987
  • Rogers developed the self-concept approach in the USA in 1942. However, it was not until the 1970s that the person-centered concept was applied in Germany.
  • Rogers studied theology and then psychology, he also dealt with philosophy.
  • He pioneered counseling in the 1940s, but he has not worked with children.
  • Virgina Axline has used his method on children.
  • According to Rogers, the client should show willingness to work on himself; it is not the therapist who brings the solution, but the client himself.

Basic assumptions

  • Man is naturally good.
  • Man himself knows what is good for him.
  • Man has an ability to solve his own problems.

Personality theory

The basis is the phenomenological approach: perceptions and meanings form an individual field of perception. This includes conscious, but also unconscious perceptions.

Update tendency

All perceptions that have an impact on a person are assessed by him in the sense of "good for himself" or "bad for himself". Man reacts to it. Example: It's raining, that's why I'm staying at home.

This is also called an organic evaluation process. This begins as early as infancy. The baby is crying because the diaper is wet. This is how negative and positive experiences are absorbed into consciousness.

Self-updating tendency

As the self develops, the tendency towards self-actualization develops.

  • I filter out what is important.
  • I value my social relationships.
  • I develop values ​​and ask myself the following questions: What do I find good / what do I find bad?
  • I set myself goals in life.
  • Over time I find out my talents and talents.


The self-concept develops from the caregivers, friends, partners, institutions, work colleagues and laws. The self-concept is a constant pattern.

Maintaining the self-concept is often more important to people than the tendency to actualize.

Example: The update tendency says: "Eat something tasty, a bar of chocolate!" The self-actualizing tendency says, "No, you are dieting. If you go soft, you get angry about it. If you manage to resist, I am proud of you."

The self-concept develops at school age. This develops from experience, support, successes and strategies.


The following example: A child paints a picture in kindergarten and the teacher praises the child for how great it has painted the picture. But the mother says: "You can do better!" Thus the child gets into a conflict. This creates experiences that do not match the self-image. This creates a state of incongruence. The response to the tension is an entirely denied, distorted, or falsified experience.

Possibilities of distortion

  • Rejection and / or defense against development-promoting experiences (e.g. anxious children avoid situations that frighten them)
  • Failure-oriented self-assessment (example: "I can't do that anyway. It won't work either." The child may have the resource, but it does not see it.)
  • Suspicious and hostile attitudes towards others: This leads to withdrawal behavior. (Example: kindergarten teacher says: “You did a great job.” The child doesn't believe it, withdraws and thinks: “That's not true anyway” - and becomes suspicious.
  • unrealistic perception of problems (example: the child is accidentally pushed but thinks he was purposely pushed. An unrealistic perception of this situation occurs.)


  • The curative teacher goes on a journey of discovery with the child.
  • The child learns to have new experiences.
  • Distorted or denied experiences can be corrected.
  • Through playful action, it experiences an emotionally corrective relationship experience.
  • Through the new relationship experience, the child can correct his self-concept.
  • The goal is always to enlarge the congruence area.
  • Congruence is a process that you have to work on all the time.
About the author
Diana Saft is a state-recognized curative educator and curative educational nurse. So far she has gained experience in a retirement home, in a dormitory for people with disabilities, in an integrative kindergarten and in a German kindergarten in the USA.

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Created on 07/20/2008
Last edited on 01/22/2013
Written by Diana Saft