Humanistic Therapy – Types, Goals & Techniques

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humanistic therapy - types and goals

Humanism is the belief that people are inherently good. This type of psychology provides that ethical values, morality, and good intentions are the driving force of behavior, while social experiences can be attributed to deviations from natural tendencies. 

Humanism incorporates a wide range of therapeutic techniques, including Rogerian also called person-centered therapy often emphasizes self-actualization and self esteem.

It’s a school of thought that recognizes the good in people as individuals. While that may sound wonderful in theory, it may be hard to imagine how it translates into a therapy situation. If you are thinking of solving a personal or mental health problem, you might want to consider talking to a humanistic therapist.  This article will help you to understand the benefits of humanistic therapy by definition, its components, and techniques.

What is Humanistic Therapy?

Humanism is based on the principle that everyone has their unique way of looking at the world. This can impact an individual’s choices and actions.  Humanistic therapy involves a core belief that people are capable of making the right choices for themselves.

This treatment endorses a comprehensive approach to human existence and pays special attention to human potential. This therapy encourages viewing ourselves as a “whole person” greater than encourages self-exploration rather than the study of behavior in other people.

What is humanistic vs behavior therapy?

Humanistic therapy, influenced by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, centers on self-actualization and personal growth, emphasizing self-awareness and the therapeutic relationship.

In contrast, behavior therapy, rooted in B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov’s work, targets observable behaviors, using techniques like conditioning to modify unwanted behaviors and address specific issues. 

Humanistic therapy prioritizes self-discovery and personal development, while behavior therapy is goal-oriented, focusing on behavioral change through systematic interventions.

Benefits of Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy offers several valuable benefits for individuals seeking psychological support. Firstly, it promotes self-awareness and self-acceptance, fostering personal growth and a deeper understanding of one’s emotions and behaviors. This approach also emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship, providing a non-judgmental and empathetic space for clients to express themselves. Humanistic therapy encourages autonomy, empowering clients to make their own choices and decisions.

It can be particularly helpful for individuals struggling with self-esteem issues, anxiety, and existential questions, as it addresses the core of their concerns. Overall, humanistic therapy offers a holistic and client-centered approach to emotional well-being and self-fulfillment.

Humanistic Therapy

Approach for Humanistic Therapy:

Empathy is the most important aspect of humanistic therapy. The idea of humanistic perspective focuses on the therapist’s ability to see the world through the client’s eyes. The therapist will not understand the thoughts from the client’s perspective without empathy but is understanding strictly as a therapist, which defeats the purpose of humanistic therapy.

Another major element in this therapy is unconditional positive regard, which refers to the care that the therapist needs to have for the client. Unconditional positive regard is characterized by acceptance, non-judgment, and warmth.  This ensures that the client centered therapist does not hold the authority figure in the relationship, and allows for a more open flow of information between the two. A therapist needs to ensure the comfort of the client by creating an environment where genuine feelings may be shared.

What Is the Goal of Humanistic Therapy?

The goal of humanistic therapy is to help the client develop a stronger, as well as access and understand their feelings to help gain a sense of meaning in life. Humanistic theory helps the client reach Self-actualization. 

The level of psychological development can be achieved when all mental and basic needs are essentially fulfilled and the actualization of the person takes place. This types of humanistic therapy focuses on the individual’s strengths and offers non-judgmental counseling sessions.

Efficacy of Humanistic therapy:

Studies suggest that humanistic therapy is as effective as other forms of psychotherapy at producing stable, positive changes over time for clients that engage in this form of treatment.

While personal transformation is the primary focus of many humanistic therapists. Humanistic approaches have also been applied to theories of social transformation related to cultural, social, and gender issues.

Moreover, humanistic psychology emphasizes wholeness and creativity to build a foundation for new approaches towards human capital in the workplace, stressing creativity and the relevance of emotional interactions.

Issues Addressed in Humanistic Therapy:

This therapy is used to treat a broad range of people and mental health conditions and challenges. The therapy recognizes the problems and indicates that you must meet them to be mentally healthy and happy.  Some of the issues of humanistic therapy are;

  • Depression

  • Panic disorders

  • Anxiety

  • Personality disorders

  • Schizophrenia

  • Addiction

  • Family issues

  • Relationship issues

  • Personal development.

Types of humanistic therapies:

In humanistic therapy, there are three most used techniques which are;

  1. Gestalt therapy

  2. Client-centered therapy

  3. Existential Therapy

1. Gestalt therapy:

This therapy focuses on the techniques that permit an individual to be more aware of their feelings. It is important to understand what and how clients are feeling, rather than to identify what is causing their feelings. Previous theories spend an unnecessary amount of time making assumptions about what causes behavior. This therapy focuses on “here and now”.

Gestalt therapy provides a state of safe emergency where you can explore the things bothering you. For example, you might explore the belief that your suggestions don’t matter to your partner.  Therapists create a “Here and Now” atmosphere by asking what you are currently aware of or how certain emotions make you feel. 

You might use techniques to do this, including:

  • Exaggerating a behavior

  • Role-playing

  • Reenacting a scenario

For example, you might be asked to visualize a person you are having issues with sitting in an empty chair across from you. Then, you’ll start a conversation as if the person were sitting there.

2. Client-Centered therapy:

This therapy provides a supportive environment in which clients can reestablish their own true identities. This whole approach to therapy provides the idea that fear of judgment prevents people from sharing their experience with the world, causing them to establish a public identity to navigate a judgmental world.

The ability to reestablish a true identity will help the individual understand themselves as they truly are. To rebuild someone’s true identity is not easy, and the therapist must rely on the techniques of empathy and unconditional positive regard.

The therapy will unconditionally accept you, even if they disagree with some aspect of your behavior. Feeling accepted in therapy can help you avoid holding back out of fear of disapproval. 

3. Existential Therapy:

This therapy draws more from philosophy than most other approaches to mental health treatment. The goal of existential therapy is to help you understand how your existence and concepts affect your unique worldview.

This therapy helps you understand and explore the meaning you give to things that happen in your life. With therapist guidance, you’ll learn to accept responsibility for choices you make, realize the freedom, and make changes that will give your life greater meaning.

Like other approaches, existential therapy is concerned with the issues you face, rather than things from your past. But it does consider how your thoughts impact your mental health and goals.

Read more about online therapy reviews

Techniques of humanistic therapies:

This therapy relies on a positive perspective rather than a lot of gimmicky techniques. The techniques are listed below are ways of looking at your problems.

Therapist Listening Techniques:

Therapists keep you engaged in active listening therapy sessions. They show that they’re listening to you and judging your facial expressions. If they don’t understand something, they might ask you to talk more about it.  

They might also tell what you said and ask if they understood it correctly. The therapist encourages you all along the way.

During listening actively, the therapist listens nonjudgmentally. Because humanism recognizes you as a good person and allows you to work through your maladaptive thoughts during talk therapy while helping you to find the good within yourself.

Assuming you’re good:

Humanistic therapy does operate under the assumption that you are good. You are good enough to overcome any challenges you have or at least, learn to cope with them healthily. You aren’t labeled according to your mental health condition. That isn’t who you are to a therapist instead, you are a good person dealing with a difficult situation.

Acknowledging your power to decide:

When you’re facing mental health problems, you might find it difficult to overcome them. Humanistic therapy helps you realize your power in any situation. Even if you can’t change the situation, you can decide how you will respond to it. The power to make a decision is the foundation of humanistic therapy.

Treating you as a Whole Person:  

Some types of therapy deal with one aspect i.e. who you are. Humanistic therapy treats you as a whole person, a person who perceives, thinks, behaves, believes, and has specific human needs. You’re a combination of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects that make up who you are.

Recognizing you as an individual:

Humanistic therapy recognizes that no two people are exactly alike. Building your uniqueness, you can blossom into a beautiful expression of human goodness that exists within you.

Dealing with issues in the here and now:

Humanistic therapy focuses on resolving issues from the past. This therapy deals with problems in the here and now, as they are happening. If what you are doing now is related to a problem from the past, you can choose differently where you’re in the present moment.

Identifying your needs:

One most important thing you do in humanistic therapy is to get to the toe end of what you need in life. Your therapist might ask questions to encourage you to talk out your problems and find the unfulfilled needs behind those challenges.  It’s not easy but your therapist can prompt you to look deeper at your mental health issues until you find your underlying need.

Accepting Responsibility:

People must accept responsibility for meeting their own needs.  When you do this, you can easily find the solution where none seemed to exist before.  Instead of blaming others, you recognize the part you play that is in dealing with it positively. The best thing about accepting responsibility is that when you do, you gain control over your problems.

Finding Solutions:

Your therapist will never tell you about your situation. This is mainly because they recognize that you are the one who is going to live with the consequences of your choices. It’s also because you know yourself better and are in a better position to decide what’s right for you.

A humanistic counselor is very cognizant of their professional boundaries. It’s important in humanistic therapy because it is intended to help you find your solutions, so rather than offering solutions, the therapist asks questions that help you access your problem-solving abilities.

Connecting with a Humanistic therapist:

If a therapist makes sense to you as a helpful way to deal with your mental challenges, you might want to begin therapy with an in-person or an online therapy.

Wrapping up:

Humanistic therapy is a mental health treatment that centers on your unique experiences and perspective. This therapy offers empathy and genuine concern for your experience, and unconditional positive regard.

By getting humanistic therapy you can take charge of your responses to stress and bad situations. By the time you’ve been in therapy, you’ll already be starting to make the changes you need to improve your thoughts, behaviors, and your physical health. Your issues are manageable, all you need to do is simply look for ways to lead a more meaningful life.

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