The core belief in humanistic psychology is that people are intrinsically good. It focuses on moral issues and values. Humanism focuses on our intentionality, and it considers what the motivations or driving forces in human behavior are. It’s also called person-centered therapy or Rogerian therapy, and one of the goals is self-actualization.
How humanistic psychology developed
The movement of humanism happened in the late 1950s. It as a response to be behaviorist and psychoanalytic theory. Humanists believed that behavioral psychologists weren’t considering fundamental parts of human consciousness. A critical piece of humanistic psychology is that it starts by focusing on the person. The individual is responsible for their behavior, but can also help themselves with the assistance of a therapist. Humanistic psychologists saw that by focusing on action alone, we were missing a fundamental piece of human psychology and how to help people. In 1957, Abraham Maslow and Clark Moustakas did work that was instrumental in helping to form humanistic psychology. They met with other professionals and talked about self-actualization and individuality and the intrinsic human nature toward being good and well-intended. They received funding from Brandeis university and formed the Association for Humanistic Psychology. Some of the other notable famous contributors to the school of humanistic psychology were Carl Rogers, Charlotte Bueller, Henry Murray, Paul Wong, and Fritz Pearls.
Tenets of humanistic psychology
Here are some of the key tenets and beliefs affiliated with humanistic psychology:
- It’s essential to experience and sense things
- The subjective view and experience of a person is valid and influences their behavior
- Self-actualization is needed so that someone can reach their ultimate best
- People are fundamentally good in nature; they just need the right conditions to thrive
- Everyone is unique, and we can’t generalize, so we need to keep that in mind when we treat patients
How humanistic psychologists contribute to mental health
Humanistic psychologists use techniques that impact their patient’s ability to believe in and help themselves. They believe in fostering human nature and what’s intrinsic to us. They implement Carl Rogers’s ideas of person-centered therapy, where they encourage the client to feel that they have autonomy and the wisdom to solve their problems. Some of the things that humanistic psychology helps with is helping people understand that they have free will, the ability to do good, confidence, and self-actualization. The therapist has unconditional positive regard for their clients and is non-judgmental, which fosters many of these positive attributes.
Criticism of humanistic psychology
Some people believe that humanistic psychology is too lenient and that it’s not structured enough to help the client; that it focuses too much on the client relying on themselves for help and that the therapist doesn’t intervene enough. However, many people believe that empowering the client is a good thing that leads to the long-term sustained ability to help oneself in and outside of therapy. Therapy is a place to develop coping skills, learn to manage emotions, and learn to work through problems in a productive and healthy way, so despite potential criticisms of humanistic psychology, empowering individuals do have a positive effect on mental health treatment.
Humanistic psychology and online therapy
If you’re looking for a humanistic psychologist or someone who will implement ideas from humanistic psychology in your care, you can find one either in your local area or online therapy. Both are excellent places to work through issues surrounding individuality, your identity, and feeling empowered to help yourself. It can be scary to seek out therapy, but meeting with a humanistic psychologist can help you learn that you are valuable and able to help yourself.
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