Many experiences are said to be somehow present at any given moment. They are said to interpret present perception and guide action. Yet these many experiences cannot all be explicitly [Page 14] symbolized in awareness. They are not denied to awareness, yet they are not discriminated in awareness. Rogers calls them "available to awareness." Yet he implies more by this term than that one can think of them when one wants to. He implies that these "past experiences" function optimally to interpret perception whether one thinks of them or not. In the congruent individual "all" experiences function optimally to interpret present perception and to guide action. All experiences are being taken account of, in so far as they bear on the present. But all experiences cannot each be symbolized simultaneously. The theory implies that "all experiences" function optimally in the present subjective process, not that they are all specifically symbolized. Rogers holds that any experience which functions in this optimal fashion, could be symbolized, if need be. However, it is their optimal functioning , not their possible symbolization, which defines optimal adjustment.
Through the process of person-centered therapy, Rogers believed that people could learn to adjust their self-concept in order to achieve congruence and a more realistic view of themselves and the world. For example, imagine a young woman who views herself as uninteresting and a poor conversationalist despite the fact that other people find her fascinating and quite engaging. Because her self-perceptions are not congruent with reality, she may experience poor self-esteem as a result. The client-centered approach focuses on providing unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuine support in order to help the client reach a more congruent view of herself.