The Humanistic Approaches.

The Humanistic Approaches.

Introduction to Humanistic and Existential approaches in Counselling and Psychotherapy. This title will be with us for the next 3 posts where I will try to explain a bit of Humanistic and Existential approaches.

The humanistic and existential approaches derive from ancient Greece and Rome and were delivered by the 19th century. After all, in 1964, at the Old Saybrook conference,  a new movement in humanistic psychotherapy was established. Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Rollo May are individuals who had participated in the conference.

Humanistic and existential approaches originally established in the 19th century after the psychoanalytic school of Freud and the behaviourist approach. Abraham Maslow was one of the first people who was bound to create humanistic psychology. Humanistic and Existential approaches lie close to each other. Both respect clients beliefs and individualism, personal responsibility and ability for their own choice to change. The third force psychotherapists are creators and developers of new approaches like:

  • Gestalt Therapy by Fritz Perls ,
  • Client-Centred Therapy also naming Person-Centred Therapy (PCT), by Carl Rogers ,
  • Existential Therapy with Irvin D. Yalom
  • Logotherapy with Victor Frankl

On one side, we meet a non-directive theory which is a Rogerians approach, who did the significant movement in humanistic psychotherapy with other famous people like Abraham Maslow with his “Hierarchy of Needs”. On another side, we have the theories of counselling which provide the therapist with a conceptual framework which works by allowing them to think systematically about human development and therapeutic processes.

Humanistic approaches are different from other psychotherapy schools because it concentrates on the “here and now” and shows more interest in the whole person, rather than the experience of psychoanalysing approach with Freud’s theory. Psychoanalyse delves through the deep past of human existence and tries research in unfortunate experiences rather than positive continuations. In personal development we need to learn how to change and how we can accept a person as an individual organism.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Carl Rogers

Superconsciousness and inner wisdom, are a source of a fully functioning person and self-awareness by understanding and acceptance. Most significant moments and experiences are not only in therapy but in life as a whole such as the time when we fully accept ourselves as a person and as an organism through the fulfilment of the potential in our lives. This is protruded through Rogers as being called the “Fully functioning person” (Rogers 1963a). Rogers believed that humanity has one basic need to self-actualization, to achieve the tendency, we have to be in a state of congruence where self-image is close to ideal. As Rogers said in one of his book:

“The organism has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism”

(Rogers, 1951, p. 487).

One typical issue for an internal locus of evaluation is explained in Dave Mearns and Brian Throne’s book:

“I suppose I went into the job to please my father. It seemed to make sense, too, regarding having some career structure or “…yes I have a feeling I married Jean because I knew my parents like her….”

All the talk between therapist and the client show significant evidence of locus of evaluation, when the client realises he accepts the job or the relationship with Jean on purpose for pleasing his parents, but not for himself. These implications can make the client unhappy and could be devastating in the future. As the job does not satisfy him and is not productive as he wishes and the marriage is a justification for pleasing others but not the individual. That is the point when we find our own self-unfulfillment and unhappiness as we cannot achieve our full potential in life and the congruence of self-acceptance does not be retaliated by one or more wrong decisions in life.

I hope you enjoyed reading this piece.

See you soon in the next post.

Published by Marcin Bogucki

Counselling & Psychotherapy for both English and Polish speakers.

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