Age counseling (AC) is a special type of counseling which is applied to children and adolescents and being developed within psychological practice in Russia. This approach is based on the Russian developmental psychology, systematic analysis of child development phenomena (L.S. Vygotsky, D.B. Elkonin, etc.). But as a type of precisely counseling practice AC is based both on the special theory and the special methodology of counseling, originated in the humanistic branch of psychology largely thanks to the ideas of Carl Rogers. In our judgment, the analysis of common points of the Rogers’s ideas and AC will help the adherents of both approaches to understand each other better.
First it is important to present the main features of the AC. Firstly child assistance is mediated by the parent. Psychologist works with the family as with a whole system. While within adult counseling the responsibility is delegated to the client – he makes decisions himself, within children counseling the responsibility is split between the parent who must be aware of his responsibility for a child's life (only the active involvement of parent makes it possible to work effectively) and the psychologist who is fully responsible for the correctness of psychological diagnosis (in L.S. Vygotsky’s understanding). However the recommendations as the results of AC are developed jointly. Thus positions of both psychologist and parent are considered equal in rights, but within AC the child is not a passive object for adults’ activity. The very existence of attention not only to the life facts but also to life experience, feelings and respect to these facts (L.S. Vygotsky, C. Rogers) is the recognition of subjectivity, which respects the individual. Respect for the child, according to C. Rogers, is not only an absolute acceptance, but also to “give him some freedom to find his own solution of his problems” . Obviously, the degree of this freedom depends on the child age and should be commensurate with the level of child development. AC recognizes the primacy of the child’s development interests intended to create conditions for optimum development. The focus on attention to the specifics of the age development laws (the age analysis principle) makes an additional task for AC – to inform parents about the laws governing the development of their children so that parents can develop a more adequate and age-appropriate understanding of children’s needs and problems. However the very provision of such information should correlate with parents’ goals, interests, and situation. Thus, the fact that parents’ position runs counter to the child’s development interests makes important to recognize the need for a ‘soft’ correction aimed primarily to form the parents’ understanding of child development interests, his uniqueness, perhaps problems. If the psychologist recognizes certain actions of the parent to be inappropriate to child interests, despite the general non-directive character of AC, even the legislative influence on the parents is permissible. In general, working with a parent within AC has the features of personal counseling, assuming the benevolent and non-judgmental attitude, focus on client value system, caution with advice, client position activation, etc. It is impossible to make psychological assistance for child effective without solving problems of providing emotional support to parents, increasing psychological competence, changing attitudes towards the problem, improving psychological resistance, enhancing the sense of responsibility for own life (and a child's life), the development of the ability to make own decisions and overcome the difficulties.
Consequently, the identity and value system of psychologist are basically consistent with those put forward by C. Rogers: congruence, unconditional acceptance, empathy, belief in the uniqueness and potential of human beings, etc.
1. Burmenskaya, G.V., Zakharova, E.I., Karabanova, O.A. et al. (2007) Vozrastno-psikhologicheskij podhod v consul’tirovanii detej i podrostkov [Age approach to counseling children and adolescents]. Moscow: Akademiya.
2. Rogers, C. (1942). Counseling and Psychotherapy: Newer Concepts in Practice. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
3. Rogers, C. (1961). On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy. L.: Constable.