Types of therapies: Humanism

It has taken me some time to continue this mini-series about counseling or psychology theories, but here I am, back with a new post, this time about Humanism. If you are new to the blog or can’t remember, part of the objective I have is to close the gap between therapy and people.

I believe therapy should be for everyone, and I think by talking about it openly we can reduce the stigma around it. In this series of posts, I try to summarize my perspective in different counseling theories, so that people can choose and know a little more when choosing a therapist.

So…as I did with Psychodynamic theories, my aim here is not to do an academic review of this orientation, which can be found anywhere else, but to give an idea of what you can find on a Humanist therapist and therapeutic setting.

Briefly

As a response to their predecessors, humanists wanted to, very simply, humanize the therapeutic setting. The psychoanalyst methods were too solemn and serious for some, and argued that it did not take into account the personal perspective, as it was based on the therapist’s interpretation and ideas of determinism.

Humanism escapes from that by acknowledging the uniqueness of each person, which would make this approach phenomenological. It is the person who is in possession of the truth, and therefore, of the solution, and not the therapist.

Predecessors of this orientation are Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who worked towards the creation of a new style that would differ in techniques and understanding of therapy.

The therapist

The humanist therapist will not always be identified as such because of the many directions that humanism has taken along the years. Other orientations encompassed on Humanism could be: Person Centered therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Existenitalism, Gestalt or Positive psychology, among others. Although they may all fall under the category of humanism, they may differ greatly from one another.

Some general ideas of the humanist therapist:

  • Therapist focuses on quality of therapeutic relationship
  • Therapist is genuine, integrated, and authentic
  • Therapist openly expresses feelings and attitudes present in relationship with the client
  • Therapist does not use techniques designed to get the client to do something (this is more of a person centered approach)
  • There are no roles in relationship
  • Empathetic, understanding, non-judgmental

The Client

The client will be expected to work towards a desired goal. The client is mostly understood from a here-and-now perspective, which differs from other theories that focus more on the past experiences. From this idea, the client will talk about current life, life goals, and ideas of self and self-improvement.

Since the expertise is put on the client, it will be them who are responsible for deciding what they need, and may expect to have autonomy over deciding on scheduling, the issues to work on and style. However, as previously said, this may vary when working with a Gestalt therapist, or a Person Centered one, for example.

Resources

The Association for Humanistic Psychology https://www.ahpweb.org/

Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Find a therapist with a humanist approach.

 


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