SWM-015: How the Business World Can Benefit from a Human-Centered Approach, with Mark Rodgers

April 13, 2015 @ 9:16 pm

[T]he individual has within himself or herself vast resources for self-understanding, for altering his or her self-concept, attitudes and self-directed behavior...” —Carl Rogers

“Carl Rogers believed that the client could become their own engine for positive growth.” —Mark Rogers, Rogerian-trained psychotherapist and founder, The Unfinished Sentence…

Social Work Matters podcast coverThis episode’s guest is human-centered design expert Mark Rodgers, who took part in a panel discussion titled “Carl Rogers and Humanistic-Experiential Theory” held at the end of last year as part of the Clinical & Community Practice Grand Rounds series.

We were interested in talking to Mark not just because of what he has to say about Carl Rogers, the founder of the humanist approach to clinical psychology, but also because he has forged a career path that combines his training in Rogerian psychotherapy with running his own branding and marketing agency—a story that could be of interest to students who can see themselves using their social work degrees in a business context.

While admitting he took a “circuitous route” into the world of business, Mark says that his clients appreciate his “humanistic approach.” Unlike more conventional branding agencies, he uses humanistic psychology to create an environment that is conducive for consumers to tell the truth about clients’ products. It is a process, he says, that leads clients to “new and promising paths” for brand innovation and renovation,” by giving them insights into products and services in tune with what customers really want.


How can today’s business world make us of the “person-centered” skills possessed by social workers, psychologists, and psychotherapists?



  • Mark’s satisfaction in bringing elements of the person-centered approach into a commercial field [2:37]
  • How Mark defines a “person-centered approach” [2:56]
  • A short history of Carl Rogers’ rise to prominence and his insistence that clients can become their own engine for positive change [3:36]
  • The three “core conditions” the therapist can offer to bring out a client’s “actualizing tendency”: empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard [4:15]
  • On why Mark doesn’t think of himself as an “entrepreneur” [5:34]
  • On why Mark thinks the business world doesn’t understand “consumers,” a term he doesn’t like [6:12]
  • Mark’s alternative approach to testing “consumer” sentiment [7:18]
  • How open the traditional business world is to social workers and others who take a “person centered” approach [9:27]
  • The need to challenge the “whole economic model,” which relies on growth and income inequality [10:37]
  • Why it might make sense to see the MSW as the new MBA, as Fast Company argued in an article last fall [11:31]
  • The example of Mark’s friend who worked in a financial recruiting agency in the city of London and introduced a “person-centered mentorship program,” with great success [14:06]