Humanistic Psychology Explained
Humanistic psychology is a branch of psychology involved with free will, human potential and creativity. Humanistic psychology is often referred to as the “third force” in psychology. Its roots can be traced centuries back to the time of Socrates straight through the Renaissance. Humanistic psychology focuses on an individual’s ability to self-actualize.
One of the early influencers of this branch of psychology was Carl Rogers, an influential psychologist who was one of the founders of the humanistic approach. This brand of psychology, which is holistic in nature, became the inspiration for Abraham Maslow’s famous self-actualization studies (Hierarchy of Needs).
Characteristics of Humanistic Psychology
There are a number of elements involved with humanistic psychology, which when practiced by a counselor is known as humanistic or person centered therapy. What follows is a brief list of traits. This humanistic list should not be considered exhaustive.
Humanistic therapy is an approach to counseling where the helping professional does not judge what is being shared by a client – regardless of the material being disclosed.
A key feature of person centered therapy is empathy. Counselors adopting a humanistic approach to counseling often join their clients’ when exploring emotionally painful issues, which are sometimes referred to as a psychic injury.
Most humanistic counseling professionals put aside the clinical jargon and diagnosis and dial into the essence of the client. Many helping professionals using a person centered approach encourage the client to focus on their strengths (aka strength based approach).
4. Focus on the self
Humanistic psychological approaches involved the helping professional assisting the client focus on the “self”. In other words, the goal of therapy is to promote the client’s expression of feelings, thoughts and emotions through dialogue. In some cases, expressive outlets are encouraged, such as writing, painting, drawing and even acting (aka psycho-drama).
A final characteristic of humanistic psychology is its existential components. Existential therapists help clients work through restrictive patterns and approaches by encouraging them to express themselves through creativity and self-expression. Four existential dimensions are commonly explored as part of existential infusion: 1. Physical, 2. Psychological, 3. Social and Spiritual
Humanistic psychology has been used throughout the collective lifespan of humankind. While it may not have been called by the name humanistic psychology until the 1920’s, its traits and characteristics have been part of our species since we gained recorded sentience.
The Chicago counselors and therapists at 2nd Story Counseling use an integrative approach to client wellness and include many of the precepts of humanistic psychology as part of their approach to wellness promotion.
If you have questions about humanistic psychology (person centered psychology) please feel free to call us at 773-528-1777 or send us a confidential note through our secure contact form.