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Reflections on Human Potential: Bridging the person-centred approach and positive psychology

Reflections on Human Potential: Bridging the person-centred approach and positive psychology

Brian Levitt

ISBN 978 1 898059 96 7 (2008)

Cover Price £22.00

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A basic trust in the individual is at the heart of the person-centred approach. This trust is reflected in the radical ethical stance of non-directivity and in the theoretical construct of the actualising tendency.  In this companion volume to his well-received Embracing Non-directivity, Brian Levitt once again brings together an impressive international collection of person-centred writers. The actualising tendency serves here as a catalyst for a diverse and thought-provoking collection of essays, each reflecting on various aspects of human potential within the context of person-centred theory and practice. These essays, while shedding further light on the person-centred approach, also build bridges to the emerging discipline of positive psychology.


Introduction –  The actualizing tendency:  A Meta-theoretical perspective for positive psychology.  Stephen Joseph and Tom Patterson

Historical Context: The Actualizing Tendency in Person-Centred Theory

The actualizing tendency in relation to “motives” and to consciousness (1963, Nebraska Symposium) Carl Rogers

 Actualisation – A functional concept in client-centered theory (1991) Jerold Bozarth and Barbara Brodley

The Actualisation Conundrum (2003) Tony Merry

Contemporary Explorations of Human Potential in Person-Centred Theory

The myth of the actualizing tendency: The actualizing tendency concept as a guiding story  Brian Levitt

Being verbal:  From being human to human being Keith Tudor

 A personalizing tendency:  Dialogical and therapeutic consequences of the actualizing tendency axiom Peter Schmid

The “unitary actualizing tendency” and congruence in client-centered therapy Jerold Bozarth and ChungChuan Wang

The formative tendency: Person-centered systems theory, interdependence and human potential Jef Cornelius-White and Jurgen Kriz

Health and Human Potential  

From illness to health, well-being and empowerment: The Person-Centered paradigm shift from patient to client Alberto Zucconi

Non-dualism and Non-directivity: A person-centered concept of health and the fully functioning person Carol Wolter-Gustafson

Psychological health Keith Tudor

How clients self-heal in psychotherapy Art Bohart

Marginalized Populations and Human Potential  

Resilience and the self-righting power of development: Observations of impoverished Brazilian children in Person-Centred play therapy  Beth Freire and associates

Psychotherapy and sexual diversity:  A person-centred approach Javier Armenta Mejia

Personal Accounts of Human Potential: The Personal as Theoretical

An essay on children, evil, and the actualizing tendency Kathy Moon

Conditions of worth and an artist’s journey Noel Nera

The actualization of the existential self in human dying Garry Prouty


Beyond fiefdoms Brian Levitt

This is a book worth reading. It has some interesting things to say about positive psychology, but is at its best when it is rediscovering person-centred theory as expressed in the actualising tendency. I commend this book to both scholars and practitioners who wish to question what they think they already know about person centred theory. Reviewed by Dr Peter Martin, Principal Lecturer in Counselling Psychology, Roehampton University in BJGC 37(3) 2009.

Brian Levitt

Brian Levitt

Brian E. Levitt, Psy.D., C.Psych. is a senior psychologist with Kaplan and Kaplan Psychologists in Hamilton, Ontario, where he has a practice in rehabilitation psychology. Prior to immigrating to Canada, Brian was a clinical psychologist in the United States. While there, he trained for three years at the Chicago Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, the center that grew from Carl Rogers’ work at the University of Chicago. After his studies at the Center, which included a post-doctoral fellowship, he joined the staff as a therapist and trainer. He also trained for two years at the Pre-Therapy Institute in Chicago, under the tutelage of Garry Prouty, earning certification in the practice of Pre-Therapy. Brian is the editor of two books with PCCS: Embracing Non-Directivity and Reflections on Human Potential.

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