Humanistic therapy: what does it consist of?

Humanistic therapy was a revolution when it emerged in the mid-20th century. His approach, aimed at enhancing the best in human beings, explored for the first time all those positive aspects that define us.

This psychological model looks at the whole person and guides them to develop their own growth, wisdom, satisfaction and existential fulfillment.

If we point out that It was by itself a whole change compared to other therapeutic schools it is for a concrete fact. Until now, perspectives such as behaviorism or psychoanalysis have focused on the pathological, on conceiving behavior and human consciousness as something quantifiable and observable. Suddenly the person was a holistic entity.

Beyond depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, there are many more issues to consider, such as social context, family, personal aspirations, potential, personality, fears, and needs.

Humanistic therapy: definition

Humanistic psychology was characterized by nourishing itself with interesting philosophical roots, such as the existentialism of Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Let us therefore know the therapeutic bases of this very decisive and interesting school.

Humanistic therapy responds to a model of psychological intervention that places the focus on personal development. What does this mean? It implies that, beyond treating depression or a situation of work stress, it is necessary to ensure that the person clarifies their vital meanings, that they can develop their identity, self-esteem and motivation to the maximum. All this to achieve happiness.

If we ask ourselves about the origin of this approach, we must go to the 1960s. It was the American psychologist Abraham H. Maslow who started a movement focused on understanding human behavior and the areas that can enable people to achieve a fuller life.

This humanistic-existential movement combined, in turn, neo-Freudian elements and small spiritual touches, in order to promote motivation.

Humanistic therapy focuses on the here and now, rather than trying to identify past events that led to these feelings.

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Holistic vision of the human being

The person is not just past trauma, present depression, or life-limiting phobias. Each one of us is a set of elements that integrate the physical with the psychic, the emotional and also the spiritual. We are psychosomatic units.

Therefore, it is not enough to focus only on human discomfort. The good humanistic therapist attends and enhances every aspect of the person that can mediate their well-being.

In each person there is great potential for change

The ultimate goal of any therapeutic process is to facilitate the shift towards balance and wholeness.. In humanistic therapy, the psychologist enables, facilitates and guides the person so that he can, by himself, proceed to that advance. We all have that ability: develop ourselves psychologically to achieve happiness.

The capacity for choice, creativity and self-realization as pillars of humanistic therapy

University of California psychotherapist Donald E. Polkinghorne was a leading figure in humanistic therapy today. In research papers, such as the one published in the Humanist Society in 1992, it reminds us of something important.

Psychology would advance much more if, instead of focusing on the natural sciences and observation or analysis, the humanistic method were used. In this therapy, the person is helped to develop their capacity for choice, creativity and self-realization to achieve a more satisfied society.

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What kinds of humanistic therapies exist?

Within humanistic therapy, figures as relevant to psychology as Carl Rogers stand out. Thus, in this school it should be noted that there are different types and they are the following:

  • Existential: oriented to favor the person to clarify their vital meanings.
  • Gestalt: focuses on the entire experience of an individual to attend from their emotions, attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, behaviors. It puts the focus of attention on the here and now.
  • Of human needs: this school starts from the idea that people have a series of innate needs that we are neglecting and this generates discomfort. The purpose of this model is to work areas blocked or sloppy.
  • Customer centric: This model was developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers. Part of the idea that people have an innate tendency to develop and reach our full potential. However, certain experiences can interrupt this process. The therapist must mediate healing and facilitate natural advancement.

What is the humanistic therapist like?

On the other hand, it is interesting to know what are the characteristics that define the humanistic therapist psychologist. They are as follows:

  • They are congruent and authentic. They know how to connect with the person in a meaningful, close and real way.
  • They are empathetic. Empathy is an essential motor in the therapeutic process.
  • They promote positive and unconditional acceptance of the person. During therapy, the person should feel accepted and not judged, free to explain their thoughts and feelings, knowing that everything they say will be understood.

Humanistic therapy allows us to know ourselves better as people in order to reach our full potential.

What benefits are achieved in humanistic therapy?

Among all the psychotherapeutic models, this It is one of the most interesting to work on aspects related to personal growth. If we ask ourselves what advantages it offers us, these are the most outstanding dimensions:

  • Self-knowledge and self-acceptance.
  • Understanding of one's own emotions.
  • Identification of negative and irrational thought patterns.
  • Stop judging or criticizing ourselves to develop a more positive dialogue.
  • Feel more motivated to achieve goals.
  • Improve self-esteem.
  • Learn tools to handle everyday difficulties.

When is humanistic therapy used?

As we have pointed out, humanistic therapy is very valid for working on aspects of personal development. However, the most favored areas are the following:

  • Self-esteem problems.
  • Moments of existential crisis.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Phobias and panic attacks.
  • Emotional and relationship problems.
  • Work stress.

In conclusion, we are facing a model of psychological intervention as interesting as it is enriching. Therapeutic strategies like the one developed by Carl Rogers in the mid-20th century are still valid.