[III] The organism reacts as an organized whole to this phenomenal field.
In my mind this proposition is possibly one of the most influential of all in regards to successful counselling. It encapsulates Rogers’ life-long belief that everyone has an inherent ability to move forward despite the individual’s circumstances.
Behaviour is dictated by needs and goals and the human organism strives to achieve these whatever the situation.
“…there is increasing acceptance of the fact that one of the most basic characteristics of organic life is its tendency toward total, organized, goal-directed responses.”
He recognizes that the body can overcome physical setbacks and still find a way to fulfill the function desired. But he argues that this can also be the case with psychological instances as well. If we encounter difficulties with life on a mental level, we do have the ability to get overcome them and achieve our needs in other ways. Bereavement is a good example of this. We are naturally distressed when we lose someone we are close to but in time we find a way to get over the sadness and the shock. The self re-organizes to eventually accept the reality of the loss and gives us a platform to carry on with our lives. It could be said that bereavement is the “total, organized, goal-directed response” to loss.
But Rogers was outlining a natural movement towards goal-directed behaviour; the life-force that is inherent in keeping us going forward, explained further in his 4th proposition. Of course, not everyone experiences this movement to acceptance and require outside help to guide them to where they need to be. Other factors dominant in a person’s life may be making it difficult to make the process of bereavement as natural as it should.