“Self-actualization” represents a concept derived from Humanistic psychological theory and, specifically, from the theory created by Abraham Maslow. Self-actualization, according to Maslow, represents growth of an individual toward fulfillment of the highest needs; those for meaning in life, in particular. Carl Rogers also created a theory implicating a “growth potential” whose aim was to integrate congruently the “real self” and the “ideal self” thereby cultivating the emergence of the “fully functioning person”. It was Maslow, however, who created a psychological hierarchy of needs, the fulfillment of which theoretically leads to a culmination of fulfillment of “being values”, or the needs that are on the highest level of this hierarchy, representing meaning.
I found an old copy of On Becoming a Person at Encore Books a month or two ago. It is by Carl Rogers, the founder of client-centered psychotherapy, and I have been reading it slowly ever since. The first essay "This is Me" is a list of the very humane things Rogers learned over his years working as a therapist and researcher. Perhaps the central piece, the motto of client-centered psychotherapy is "I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person." Really accepting another person in his or her otherness is at the heart of Rogers' vision of psychotherapy (and humanness as far as he was concerned). My supervisor and teacher, Sylvia, has been telling me for the last year and a half that the greatest resource a therapist has is the client; I might summarize her teaching to me as, "Be curious. Ask, ask, ask." That is very much in the spirit of Rogers. You may, as a therapist, think you know, but rather than proceed with that assurance, ask. He describes the experience of the research scientist afraid that the evidence might disprove one's hypothesis;
Carl Ransom Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential "American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. Rogers is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association in 1956. (Wikipedia)" He was very influential in the exploration of empathy. Much of the empathy work in psychology and psychotherapy is based on his work on empathy and reflective listening.