What Is Humanistic Psychology?

What Is Humanistic Psychology?
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 29-09-2023

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Most fields in psychology focus on the negative aspects of humans, such as their developmental issues, the root cause of them, the harm they inflict on others and themselves, and so on. While it is important to learn and discuss these, there was a group of psychologists who believed in the positive side of human psychology. These psychologists introduced a field of psychology known as humanistic psychology. 

Psychologists View 

This is mostly from the works of Abraham Maslow and Carl Jung. These two believed that humans are inherently positive, truthful, and positively inclined towards growth and development. They believed that humans constantly strive for development to reach a stage called ‘self-actualization’. Hindrances in reaching that optimal level of development, they believe, cause all the issues in the human mind. The ones who do feel that contentment would be labeled as self-actualized by Abraham Maslow.

He is the father of humanistic psychology and believed that humans strive for self-actualization. In doing so, five levels in Maslow s pyramid are termed needs, which one must fulfill to feel content. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are- physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization.

Carl Rogers had a similar point of view, a positive view of humans. We all have two views of ourselves: one that we truly are and one that we wish to be. Once the individual closes the gap between the real and ideal selves, empathy, that s when the person reaches true actualization.  He again believed that people are truthful and strive toward development. In doing so, getting positive regard, unconditional support, empathy, and genuineness from those around you is essential. 

The following are some of the foundational beliefs of humanistic psychology:

  • People are moral by nature. According to humanistic psychologists, everyone has an inherent inclination towards personal development and self-actualization from birth. They think that individuals are inherently good and that the pursuit of their potential drives them to act in certain ways.
  • Individuals have free will. Humanistic psychologists hold that each person is capable of choosing their own path and directing their own fate. They contend that people have the power to make decisions that will get them closer to self-actualization and that they are not merely biological or environmental slaves.
  • the significance of expertise. Experience, in the opinion of humanistic psychologists, is crucial to human growth. They think that both pleasant and negative experiences can help people learn and develop. Additionally, they think it s critical to pay attention to people s stories and comprehend how those stories have influenced who they are as people.
  • self-actualization s aim. According to humanistic psychologists, self-actualization is the aim of human life. Developing into the best version of yourself is the process of self-actualization. It entails realizing your potential and leading an authentic life.
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Why Is It Important?

  • In a field that is plagued by the idea of dysfunction and revolves around all the negative aspects of human existence, humanistic psychology acts as a ray of sunshine and positive energy that believes in free will and wants everyone to believe that they are capable of achieving what they want in life. Its goal is to understand the concept of a ‘fully functioning human’ and strive towards it. Some of the ways that humanistic psychology is used in psychology are as follows:
  • Humanistic therapy: Numerous forms of psychotherapy that are based on humanistic ideas have come into existence. These consist of Gestalt therapy, existential therapy, and client-centered therapy. 
  • Personal development: Humanism can be utilized as a tool for self-discovery and personal development because it emphasizes the value of self-actualization and realizing one s full potential.
  • Social improvement: Improving communities and society is a key component of humanism. Societies must be created that promote social support and individual well-being in order for people to be healthy and whole.
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Role Of A Humanistic Therapist

Humanistic therapy shares the same values as its founders and believes that people just need a little push and guidance to figure out the right path and strive toward it. It believes that people can change and provides them with the space for acceptance. The role of the counselor is a holistic one, where they focus on the client, listen, and be present. The three key features of this field are: 

  • Empathy: they try their best to think with the client and not for the client. They put themselves in the client s shoes to truly understand the problem and help in the development of potential solutions 
  • Unconditional Positive Regard: it s the expert’s job to make it a judgment-free zone. The client must feel comfortable enough to share everything, even instances where they feel at fault, without feeling that they are being scrutinized. They are made to realize that they deserve love even if they make mistakes and they do not need to be a certain way to feel like they deserve love 
  • Congruence and genuineness: the therapist must not fake their positive regard. They are required to be truly genuine and help the client figure out the right path and journey. Acceptance is not the same as agreement. The therapist does not need to agree with everything the client says to make them feel seen or heard. They must accept reality and work towards building a more functional one if required  

Learn More at HopeQure 

HopeQure is an online counselling  platform that psycho-educates people on various topics, including the one we discussed above and others such as ego psychology, developmental psychology, other issues that people deal with and so much more. Our goal is to make you self-aware! And apart from psychoeducation, we also provide assistance to our experts on any topics that are relevant to your well-being! So feel free to reach out and learn more!

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