The humanistic school of psychotherapy is also known as the person-centered approach. Humanism is basically, “a system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth,” (Day, 2008, p. 206).
There is an emphasis on the positive side of human life. Human nature is seen as good. In other words, we as humans strive for the best in life and that we are thrive off of things that are good for us. It is a very positive outlook on ourselves and life. The focus is the self and positivity.
It is theorized that, “psychological problems come into being at the contact boundary between the person and the world,” (Task Force, 2004, p. 18). In addition to that, “persons are irreducible to the sum of their parts . . . overall, we focus on the whole person who is choosing, setting goals, pursuing meaning, establishing and living in relationships, and creating” (Task Force, 2004, p. 15).
Adler was a huge influence on the humanistic school of psychotherapy. According to Lemberger, “there are some generally inclusive Adler and Humanistic Psychotherapy 127 themes across the myriad humanistic psychological theories, and in a similar way there are certainly some clear Adlerian influences even across this variety,” (Lemberger, 2017, p.127).
Rogers is also an important contributor to the humanistic school of psychotherapy and one of the founding fathers for it.
About Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers’, “contributions encouraged the use of the successful principles of a client-centered therapy in a variety of settings, such as group therapy, family relationships, and teaching and learning environments,” (Day, 2008, p. 207).
Throughout his life he developed four phases of the person-centered psychotherapy. Nondirective counseling was the first phase during the 1940s.
He renamed his approach the client-centered therapy in the 1950s.
During the 1970s the third period was about becoming a person. Finally, “the fourth phase, during the 1980s and the 1990s, was marked by considerable expansion to education, industry, groups, conflict resolution, and the search for world peace,” (Corey, 2005, p. 165). This became known as the person-centered approach.
The Therapeutic process in Humanistic Psychotherapy
This therapeutic process is person-centered and is an experiential process as well. A sense of trust is developed by the therapist in that the client will learn how to become constructive if positivity continues.
The attitude of the therapist towards the client is seen as more important than specific knowledge or theories. Directive therapy is avoided.
One is not supposed to view the client in a diagnostic sense. In fact, “the therapist must be willing to be real in the relationship with clients,” and, “by being congruent, accepting, and empathic, the therapist is a catalyst for change,” (Corey, 2005, p. 169).
As therapy continues the client learns how to look deep within at his or herself in order to discover new or previously hidden thoughts and feelings. As the hidden aspects of the person come to the surface, the individual is able to face those negative thoughts with the therapist.
During this therapist to client relationship it is imperative that the client does not feel judged and can freely and openly discuss things.
After the release of such information of negativity or problems from the past, the focus can then more so move on to the positive and the best potential for oneself.
Techniques of Humanistic Psychotherapy
The main techniques are non directive, self-disclosure, and play therapy which works great with children. It is common to incorporate parents and teachers as well.
There are several other uses for humanistic psychotherapy such as in turning points in life, individualized education planning, or for social activism.
It has helped the world of psychology and the general population come to understand the importance of empathy. Empathy is a fundamental basis for all forms of counseling, therapy, psychiatry, psychology, social work, etc.
This school of psychotherapy has proven that. Empathy should be a basic component for all human beings really.
Research has shown, “that therapist empathy is the most potent predictor of client progress in therapy,” (Corey, 2005, p. 183). In addition to that, it, “is an essential component of successful therapy in every therapeutic modality,” and, “no study shows a negative relationship between empathy and outcome,” (Corey, 2005, p. 183).
Finally, “successful outcomes across different modalities are characterized by a high proportion of therapist statements expressing understanding, attentive listening, and receptive openness to the client’s perspective,” (Corey, 2005, p.183).
Critique of Humanistic Psychotherapy
Humanistic psychotherapy critics argue that it focuses almost entirely on the positive and doesn’t pose too many challenges for the client.
In other words, the therapist is not challenging the client very much. It can also be difficult for the therapist to allow the therapist to find their own way. Bluntly put, “a real possibility is that person-centered therapy will be reduced to a bland, safe, and ineffectual approach,” (Corey, 2005, p. 185).