June 7, 2016

As I read over some of the material in my textbook, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy (Hazler in Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016), I came across a couple of familiar concepts: unconditional positive regard and conditions of worth (Rogers, 1959 cited in Hazler, 2016). Unconditional positive regard involves an individual’s self-trust and confidence in one’s self to make decisions based on her/his own goodness (Hazler, 2016, p. 174-175). Conditions of worth can be explained as a form of the retribution principle: If I do good, then all will go well or I will be rewarded with love and acceptance; and if I do not do good, if I fail in some way, then I will not be capable of making my own decisions and must look outside/externally to find guidance, not being able to make decisions based on my own worth or goodness (Hazler, 2016, p. 175).

Recently, I have been unsettled by some of the issues and arguments I have heard and read about the LGBTQ community. Not only are people irresponsibly accusing transgender individuals of possibly committing acts against their children, I think some individuals are actually afraid, due to their ignorance. These people have based their assumptions on false information from the media, modern rumors, and prejudiced agenda based on a religious idea from thousands of years ago.

When a person or the group in which the person is a member denies services, mistreats, abuses, causes harm or intends to cause harm to a member of a different group based on the characteristics or attributes of the other group members being different, it is prejudice. Prejudice is not acceptable and is NEVER okay. It is not appropriate to chastise, punish, or alienate any group based on nonconformity to social, political, or cultural norms.

Taking this one step further, I want to bring up the topic of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Back then, there were many who firmly believed that it was acceptable to own slaves and acceptable to mistreat people of color. The basis of this misconception was that the Bible said it was okay to have slaves. Again, this idea was based on religious ideas that were almost 2,000 years old.

Since then, we have realized the errors of our ways and there has been some growth towards the equal and fair treatment of people of all ethnic backgrounds. There is still much work to do and growth is needed to continue our plight towards equality in this realm, but the American culture has adopted some better ways of protecting the rights and affirming the privileges of people of color. There is much more involved with the topic of civil rights still needed in this area but this article cannot begin to discuss all of them.

This brings me to my next subject. In the here and now, there are many fighting against equal rights, privileges, and protection for our LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and family members. These individuals believe that their rights to religious freedom are somehow being taken away if our LGBTQ citizens are treated as they ought to be treated – equality and justice. Rather than see how damaging their actions are, these persons insist that they have the right to mistreat, deny services, and alienate LGBTQ members all based on their being different than the majority group. Remembering the definition of prejudice mentioned earlier, I cannot see how anyone cannot see these actions as prejudiced and against LGBTQ individuals.

My last point reiterates one made previously about the civil rights movement. After 50 years, we have seen how horrendous the segregation acts were, we can see that people of color and women have just as much value as White men. We can see that voting rights and rights to higher education should not be withheld from anyone based on the person’s characteristics and physical attributes. Alarmingly, we should also be aware that these misconceptions were fueled by a literal biblical interpretation. This same biblical prejudice is now being used to condemn another group that does not fit neatly into the cultural standards of this religious crowd. And all of this is based on a sense of superiority gained from words written over 2,000 years ago, some over 2,800 years ago, of which results in the malicious degradation of others without considering the premises of their religion’s founder.

When we make decisions based on our own inherent goodness, the personal worth and value that leads us to want fair and just treatment of all, then we can see that unconditional positive regard guides us along. Healthy cognition can aid us when making decisions to NOT go along with the crowd but to stand up for what it means to be more fully human, by treating others as we want to be treated. When we have allowed the majority, no matter how prejudiced in their views and actions, to dictate what we should believe and how we should mistreat others based on ancient sources, then we have succumbed to conditions of worth; thinking that our value comes from belonging to the group that seems to be in charge.

Those who attempt to convince others into thinking that educating ourselves with the current literature for the sake of finding truth is a waste of time are misinformed by thinking that all we need is one BOOK to find all the answers for all time. I want a doctor who has read medical books! I want a psychologist who has read the mental health literature! I want a surgeon who is educated with the most current medical/scientific findings! The prejudiced, religious view that is disregarding the painful consequences of treating others as if they are not good enough, that their value is based on whether they conform to our wants or ideals, or that they are somehow not acceptable the way they are, must be in denial of how damaging this behavior and these words are to our friends, neighbors, and family members who belong to the LGBTQ community. If they do see how horrendous this behavior is and continue to do so, then I have to question the value or worth of their religiousness.

Reference

Hazler, R. J. (2016). Person-centered theory. In D. Capuzzi and M. D. Stauffer, Counseling and  Psychotherapy: Theories and interventions (6th ed., pp. 169-190). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

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