Humanistic therapy places emphasis on an individual’s capacity for self-determination. Although recognising past problems, therapists encourage the client to recognise their ability to make choices that can positively effect their existence in a present-and-future context.
Humanistic therapy can be traced back to the 1950s, and is influenced by the work of Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Clark Moustakas. This group wanted to move away from the constraints of Behaviourist theory and set about introducing a more holistic kind of psychology.
This would lead to the influential Journal of Humanistic Psychology (1961) and the setting up of The Association of Humanistic Psychology (1963). Official recognition by the American Psychological Association in 1971 cemented Humanistic Psychotherapy as Psychology’s ‘Third force’.
The approach involves a variety of different theories that include Gestalt and Client-Centred Therapy. All Humanistic therapists, whatever their discipline, believe that the person is unique, that they consist of an integrated whole of which harmony and balance is integral, and that each person has the right to autonomy and respect.
Great importance is placed on the relationship between client and counsellor, which is seen as an essential component in the realisation of positive change.
How can Humanistic Therapy Help?
It can be useful at increasing a person’s self-awareness. The approach also attempts to help people gain control of their lives and make positive choices about their direction. Self-esteem, bereavement and assertiveness are among some of the issues confronted by the approach.