My History with person-centered groups
I attended my first person-centered group in the Adirondack Mountains in 1977.
That group was facilitated by Carl Rogers and a staff that included Natalie Rogers,
originator of experiments with large groups using the tenets of the person-centered
approach. There were over one hundred participants who came from various places in the
world as well as the U.S. We met for sixteen days in the Adirondack Mountains at the
former Vanderbilt Camping estate that housed the National Center for Humanistic
It was an astounding, chaotic, and unsettling meeting that yielded events that
many of us called ‘miraculous’. I was genuinely transformed by the experience, yet found
it difficult to describe to curious friends and family. The following year, and for a number
of years after that, I became a staff member, with Carl Rogers and other facilitators, of
large groups that drew participants primarily from the East coast of the United States.
Each group was remarkable in its own right, but, again, participants found it difficult to
explain what made these meetings so life-changing. Most of them indicated that they had
“learned more than I’ve learned in my whole life.” Still, they had difficulty expressing
their learnings and understanding why their experience was so powerful. I was puzzled to
hear continuing reports of mystery and magic rather than any logical explanation for the
transformative quality of these groups.
The Indepth Learning Program in the person-centered approach. In 1980, two
person-centered colleagues and I, in conversation with Carl Rogers, developed a process
where serious students of the person-centered approach could gather to experience and
reflect on its theory and practice. We were careful to remain true to the tenets of the