Self concept in counselling • [PDF download on self concept] (2023)

Self-concept is the ideas and beliefs that everyone holds about themselves.

This self-identity is made up of elements and influences throughout our lives.

We all create an image from our own subjective reality and it's made up of certain conditions that we hold as our truths.

Self-concept in counselling plays a big role as it is the picture of how a client views themselves.

Self concept in counselling • [PDF download on self concept] (1)

The objectives of this article on self-concept are to:

  • describe the meaning of self-concept related to counselling
  • identify the importance of understanding your own self-concept as a counsellor
  • recognize the importance of self-concept in the client's journey

Self Concept Examples

In the early development years, our self concept tends to be measured in terms of tangibles such as our eye color, height, what grade we are in school.

As we develop, so does our self concept. We begin adopting intrinsic or inner values as part of that self concept. For example, a junior school student may describe themselves as quite a shy individual.

Through the teen years and into adulthood, we add characteristics that we feel relation or affinity to, an example of which is a teenager choosing to refer to themselves as a goth.These choices are made and are added to the concept of self as we go through our lives.

The resulting incongruence between experience and self-concept leads to incongruence, which Rogers illustrated in 1957 using the following example, described by Tudor and Merry (2006: 72):

(Video) Self Concept in Person Centered Therapy

A mother ... becomes ill whenever her son makes plans to leave home; her need is to maintain her only source of satisfaction, but to admit this into awareness would be inconsistent with the picture she has of herself as a good mother; illness, however, is consistent with the self-concept so the experience is symbolised in this distorted fashion.

Self-Concept in Person-Centred Therapy

As a practitioner, we're advised to gain a personal understanding of our own self-concept in order to be fully with the client within their present moment.

We also need to study thetheory of self-conceptto understand the client's journey and identify where they feel that they may have lost their sense of self.

Now,if you ask someone who they are, it's likely that they may define themselves in terms of their gender, age, vocation, faith base, family position, culture or beliefs.

For example, I might say I'm a white middle-aged male working as a practising psychotherapist. I'm married, I have a child and in my spare time, I like going on the Internet.

Well, that's all good and well if I'm filling out a CV, but is it really a description of my true self-concept?

Key Concepts of Person-Centred Counselling

(Video) Counselling - Dave Mearns - Configurations of the self - FREE PDF Handout

Faulty beliefs can start with what we call introjected values or values of others that are adopted by the person when they are a child.

In the below example, the client may have excelled at school, teachers may have told her she is a very high achiever, and this may have been reinforced by her parents praising her for getting such good grades.

She is taking the opinions of others and using them to value herself and this is called operating from an external locus of evaluation.

The result is an adoption of the truth "I am a high achiever and this is valuable". The teachers and the parents have created conditions of worth, meaning the child feels a sense of worth if certain conditions are met. In other words, I am worthy of praise and love when I achieve.

When the client is not able to cope, she feels a mismatch, or incongruence, of what she knows as her truth and that which she experiences in the here-and-now.

Not coping means I am worthless, based on my truths that I am worthy only when I am achieving.

The human condition of experiencing incongruence between the self concept and the here-and-now experience of the individual results in tension, possible confusion and maladjusted behaviours.

This is the result of being subject to conditions of worth and introjected values leading to functioning from an external locus of evaluation.

In counselling, we aim to empower the client to identify and possibly even break down the conditions of worth that have been adopted as truths.

This process enables the client to move from an external to an internal locus of evaluation.

Understandably this is a delicate process requiring patience and time from a caring practitioner who understands and recognises the importance of self concept, both on their own and in the client's journey.

Self concept in counselling • [PDF download on self concept] (2)

In counselling, we aim to empower the client to identify and possibly even break down the conditions of worth that have been adopted as truths, enabling the client to move from an external to an internal locus of evaluation.

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Self-Concept

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Self Concept for the Counsellor

"We see the world not as it is, but as we are."

Covey (2004: 28)

The perceived truths that make up our concept of self define how we see the world.

Our concept of self has developed through experiences and interactions with others and it is the organized set of characteristics that we identify as being unique to us.

Any introjected values or conditions of worth that may lie unseen within us will distort how we view the world.

As reflective practitioners, we need to be aware that our own truths may well be flawed.

We need to be flexible and open to changing our self concept when new information comes into awareness. Being aware that we see the world not as it is but as we as individuals are, allows us to be more open to opinions and truths that challenge our own.

In short we would be able to value a client and their truths with unconditional positive regard.

Self Concept for a Client

A client entering counselling may hold truths as part of their self concept that are damaging, that are causing them pain.

(Video) The Psychology of Self Esteem

An example may be a client who values themselves as quite a high achiever who has now found that they're in a situation within their own lives where they feel that they just can't cope at this present moment.

When this client checks their self concept, they find a truth that says that they are always able to achieve. When this is compared with the reality of not being able to cope, it creates a mismatch or an incongruence and the client feels psychological distress.

It's likely that these damaging beliefs will be invisible to the client, out of awareness, and so entwined into this self concept that if these truths were to be challenged, it's very likely that the client may even defend them.

Carl Rogers - Self Concept

Smith (2012: 207) observes the Rogerian view of Self-concept is an amalgam made up of diverse elements and our relationship with them:

The self-concept is a central aspect of the person-centred approach to counselling. It is basically how people define themselves, for example, 'I am caring, I am cheerful, I can sometimes be funny'. It is 'a fluid but consistent pattern of perceptions of the 'I' or 'me' in relation to the environment, personal values, goals and ideals' (Merry and Tudor 2006: 293). As well as a self as it exists in the present, people also have an 'ideal self' which is the self they ideally want to be. McLeod (2009) makes the interesting point that the self-concept might have been more accurately named the 'self process', as this term more precisely captures the fluid, ever-changing nature of the self as conceived by Carl Rogers.

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Self-Concept

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References

Covey, S. (2004).The 7 habits of highly effective people. London: Pocket Books

(Video) 244 Mindful Steps to Self Esteem

Smith, V. (2012). Key concepts in counselling and psychotherapy. Maidenhead: Open University Press

Tudor K & Merry T (2006) Dictionary of Person-Centred Psychology, PCCS Books

Page updated January 2021

FAQs

What is self-concept in Counselling? ›

The self-concept is a central aspect of the person-centred approach to counselling. It is basically how people define themselves, for example, 'I am caring, I am cheerful, I can sometimes be funny'.

What is self-concept PDF? ›

Definition. Self-concept can be defined as the totality of a. complex, organized, and yet dynamic system. of learned attitudes, beliefs, and evaluative. judgments that people hold about themselves.

What are the 4 types of self-concept? ›

Second, we distinguish the four main conceptual units that constitute the various selves of self-presentation. These are the public self, the self-concept, the actual or behavioral self, and the ideal self.

What are the 5 self-concept? ›

The questionnaire evaluates five self-concept dimensions (academic, social, emotional, family, and physical) that represent different qualities that are differentially related to distinct areas of human behavior (Shavelson et al., 1976; Marsh and O'Mara, 2008).

Why is self-concept important in counselling? ›

It helps psychologists understand how humans develop, and how important our social interactions are. For example, self-concept is the subject of many psychological 'scales' and questionnaires used to evaluate a child's cognitive and language development, or an adolescent's identity issues.

What do you mean by self-concept? ›

Self-concept is how we perceive our behaviors, abilities, and unique characteristics. 1 For example, beliefs such as "I am a good friend" or "I am a kind person" are part of an overall self-concept.

What are the 10 factors of self-concept? ›

Self concept is made up of factors such as self image, ideal self and self esteem. Haworth et al (2010) suggests that there are numerous factors that can affect your self- concept. They are age, education, media, appearance, culture, abuse, relationships, gender, and income.

What is the importance of self-concept? ›

A healthy self-concept also has a major influence on psychological and social outcomes—it encourages the healthy development of: Personal and social abilities. Coping skills. Social interaction.

What is self-concept PPT? ›

Self-Concept • Self-concept is an individual's perception of self and is what helps make each individual unique. • Positive and negative self-assessments in the physical, emotional, intellectual, and functional dimensions change over time.

What are the characteristics of self-concept? ›

The self-concept is a knowledge representation that contains knowledge about us, including our beliefs about our personality traits, physical characteristics, abilities, values, goals, and roles, as well as the knowledge that we exist as individuals.

What is self-concept and its types? ›

Self-concept is an individual's knowledge of who he or she is. According to Carl Rogers, self-concept has three components: self-image, self-esteem, and the ideal self. Self-concept is active, dynamic, and malleable. It can be influenced by social situations and even one's own motivation for seeking self-knowledge.

What are two main parts of our self-concept? ›

The self-categorization theory developed by John Turner states that the self-concept consists of at least two "levels": a personal identity and a social one. In other words, one's self-evaluation relies on self-perceptions and how others perceive them.

What is your self-concept essay? ›

Self Concept Essay: Self-concept is how an individual thinks about oneself, based on their habits, skills, and attitude. In other words, it is the ability to reflect on one's own characteristics and behavior. Self-concept is the image we have of ourselves in the mind, and also the views we think others have about us.

What is positive self-concept? ›

What is a positive self-concept? It is a growing belief about yourself that helps you to cope successfully with the events in your life, and then to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

What is self-concept Scale? ›

Abstract. The Student Self-Concept Scale (SSCS) is a new measure of self-concept based on self-efficacy theory and subjective task value. A multidimensional measure of self-concept, the SSCS assesses efficacy and outcome expectations across Academic, Social, and Self-Image domains.

What is self-concept according to Carl Rogers? ›

Central to Rogers' personality theory is the notion of self or self-concept. This is defined as "the organized, consistent set of perceptions and beliefs about oneself." The self is the humanistic term for who we really are as a person.

How does counselling theory develop understanding of self? ›

Observing one's thoughts, feelings, decisions, roles, relationships, and so on, builds self-awareness. Doing this in the presence of a counsellor provides objectivity to the observation. The importance of an objective observer such as a therapist in developing self-awareness is shown in research.

What is the structure of self? ›

Self-structure refers to the way in which self-knowledge is organised and will be discussed in more detail below.

Who created self-concept theory? ›

The earliest milestone in the self-concept theory is that of Rene Descartes, who proposed that a person's existence depended on how he perceives so. Sigmund Freud, one of the most prominent psychologists, proposed many theories that talk about our internal mental processes.

How do you work your self-concept? ›

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  1. Become aware of thoughts and beliefs. Once you've learned which situations affect your self-esteem, notice your thoughts about them. ...
  2. Challenge negative thinking. ...
  3. Adjust your thoughts and beliefs. ...
  4. Spot troubling conditions or situations. ...
  5. Step back from your thoughts. ...
  6. Accept your thoughts.
6 Jul 2022

What things affect our self-concept? ›

There are various factors that can affect self-concept, these include: age, sexual orientation, gender and religion. The self-concept is also made up of a combination of self-esteem and self-image. Self-esteem refers to a person's feelings of self-worth or the value that they place on themselves.

How do you develop a positive self-concept? ›

Specific steps to develop a positive self-image
  1. Take a self-image inventory.
  2. Make a list of your positive qualities.
  3. Ask significant others to describe your positive qualities.
  4. Define personal goals and objectives that are reasonable and measurable.
  5. Confront thinking distortions.
24 Nov 2020

How can self-concept be improved? ›

How can I improve my self-esteem?
  1. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Try to recognise positives.
  3. Build a support network.
  4. Try talking therapy.
  5. Set yourself a challenge.
  6. Look after yourself.

What are the positive and negative self-concept? ›

We experience the positive feelings of high self-esteem when we believe that we are good and worthy and that others view us positively. We experience the negative feelings of low self-esteem when we believe that we are inadequate and less worthy than others.

What did you learn about self-concept? ›

When it comes down to it, a self-concept is a perception you have of your image, abilities, and in some ways a perception of your own individual uniqueness. This perception you have of yourself is based on the information you have gathered about your values, life roles, goals, skills, and abilities over time.

What is difference between self-concept and self-esteem? ›

Self-concept is how an individual views who they are based on their habits, skills and temperament. In other words, it is the ability to reflect on one's own traits, skills and behavior. On the other hand, self-esteem is an attitude or view that an individual has about him or herself.

How are self-concept and self-esteem related? ›

Self-esteem refers to the judgments and evaluations we make about our self- concept. While self-concept is a broad description of the self, self-esteem is a more specifically an evaluation of the self.

How would you describe yourself identity? ›

Your self-identity is a combination of personality traits, abilities, physical attributes, interests, hobbies, and/or social roles from your personal identity that you specifically selected to identify yourself.

What are characteristics of self-concept? ›

The self-concept is a knowledge representation that contains knowledge about us, including our beliefs about our personality traits, physical characteristics, abilities, values, goals, and roles, as well as the knowledge that we exist as individuals.

Why self-concept is important? ›

A healthy self-concept also has a major influence on psychological and social outcomes—it encourages the healthy development of: Personal and social abilities. Coping skills. Social interaction.

What are the key concepts in person Centred Counselling? ›

These three key concepts in person-centred counselling are: Empathic understanding: the counsellor trying to understand the client's point of view. Congruence: the counsellor being a genuine person. Unconditional positive regard: the counsellor being non-judgemental.

What is self-concept and its types? ›

Self-concept is an individual's knowledge of who he or she is. According to Carl Rogers, self-concept has three components: self-image, self-esteem, and the ideal self. Self-concept is active, dynamic, and malleable. It can be influenced by social situations and even one's own motivation for seeking self-knowledge.

What are the three aspects of self-concept? ›

Components Of Self-Concept
  • Self-Image. It's how we see ourselves. Our self-image is a combination of different attributes. ...
  • Self-Esteem. Self-esteem is the value that we place on ourselves. Our self-esteem often depends on how we evaluate ourselves. ...
  • Ideal Self. This is centered on how we wish we could be.
28 Oct 2020

What are two main parts of our self-concept? ›

The self-categorization theory developed by John Turner states that the self-concept consists of at least two "levels": a personal identity and a social one. In other words, one's self-evaluation relies on self-perceptions and how others perceive them.

What are the components of self-concept? ›

The components of self-concept are identity, body image, self-esteem, and role performance. Personal identity is the sense of what sets a person apart from others.

What is positive self-concept? ›

What is a positive self-concept? It is a growing belief about yourself that helps you to cope successfully with the events in your life, and then to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

How can self-concept be improved? ›

How can I improve my self-esteem?
  1. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Try to recognise positives.
  3. Build a support network.
  4. Try talking therapy.
  5. Set yourself a challenge.
  6. Look after yourself.

What affects self-concept? ›

Self-concept is how someone sees themselves and the perception that they hold about their abilities. There are various factors that can affect self-concept, these include: age, sexual orientation, gender and religion. The self-concept is also made up of a combination of self-esteem and self-image.

What is your self-concept essay? ›

Self Concept Essay: Self-concept is how an individual thinks about oneself, based on their habits, skills, and attitude. In other words, it is the ability to reflect on one's own characteristics and behavior. Self-concept is the image we have of ourselves in the mind, and also the views we think others have about us.

What are the important influencing factors of self-concept? ›

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how the following factors may affect self-concept – age; – appearance; – culture and ethnicity; – disability; – education; employment; gender; – relationships; – sexual orientation; and – unemployment; evaluate how these factors may influence an individual's self-concept.

What are the 7 core values of a person-centred approach? ›

Person-centred values

Examples include: individuality, independence, privacy, partnership, choice, dignity, respect and rights.

What are the three core counselling skills? ›

The three core conditions, empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence, present a considerable challenge to the person-centred practitioner, for they are not formulated as skills to be acquired, but rather as personal attitudes or attributes 'experienced' by the therapist, as well as communicated to the ...

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