Humanistic therapy is often referred to as the “third force” in psychology. It runs opposed to Freudian psychoanalysis and behavioural approaches because it is primarily concerned with human potential and providing a more holistic form of treatment. The therapy focuses on the present and future, believes that individuals can recognise their own strengths and facilitates personal growth and self-determination. There are many specific types of counselling which fall under the broad approach of humanism, including gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, person-centred counselling, existential therapy and transpersonal psychology. Finding out about these humanistic approaches helps you determine if they’d benefit yourself or your loved one.
Overall, humanistic therapy is dedicated to helping individuals identify their own potential and move towards self-actualisation, which is an understanding of what really defines them as individuals. Through this process, the individual will be able to make more positive choices which propel them towards their life goals. The approach to treatment is built on respect for the individual, and the relationship between the counsellor and the client is absolutely essential because it helps to facilitate positive change.
Person-centred, or client-centred counselling is one of the main types of humanistic therapy. The underlying idea is that each individual has the ability to realise their full potential, but the pressures of life prevent them from doing so. The therapist displays unconditional positive regard towards the client, so that they feel more comfortable expressing their true feelings and goals. This runs contrary to the conditional positive regard experienced by most people in day-to-day life, which means their behaviour is only accepted if it conforms to external expectations.
Transaction analysis is another type of humanistic psychotherapy. This focuses on the “transactions” (interactions) that the client has with others, and splits Freud’s concept of the “ego” into three different states, the child, adult and parent. During communication, people assume one of these roles, and if the person they’re talking to assumes a contradictory role (two “parents” trying to tell each other off, for example), it results in conflict. People can also become fixated in either the parent or child role, which may cause some form of mental illness.
Gestalt therapy is another type of humanistic treatment, and it works almost exclusively in the immediate present. The therapist helps the client identify the different factors which influence them on a moment-to-moment basis, and therefore helps them make more informed and sensible decisions. The main goal of the treatment is to help the client become completely self-aware, but this is accomplished through a general set of principles rather than a specific approach.
The remaining two types of humanistic counselling are the transpersonal and existential approaches. Transpersonal psychology is dedicated to helping clients identify their true selves, which lies beyond their appearance, culture, age and gender. Existential therapy is directly influenced by the philosophy of the same name, which is primarily concerned with the nature of existence and what it means to “be.” The approach to psychotherapy helps people gain a deeper understanding of their issues using the philosophy.
Humanistic therapy is a viable alternative to the more common psychoanalytic and behavioural approaches, and it is a very empowering form of treatment for the client. If you or your loved one is experiencing psychological issues and may benefit from humanistic counselling, we can help you find the best treatment for your needs. We’ll answer any questions you have about the different approaches and suggest the best options for your circumstances. Our advice is completely free, so pick up the phone and see how we can help you!