Psychology Primer: Humanistic Psychology

From 118Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Academy Library


Counseling-header.gif

Psychology Primer
By Clinton M. Williams, BA Psych



Tutorial 1: Theory


Tutorial 2: Application



Edit this nav
AcademyLogo2390.png

Humanistic Psychology


As with many schools of thought in psychology, humanistic psychology arose out of a reaction to many of the earlier forms of psychotherapy. As illustrated in the following materials borrowed from the Wikipedia, humanistic psychology marks one of the earliest expressions of eclectic or integrationist psychology in that it recognized the strengths of some of the earlier schools of thought, while taking exception to certain presuppositions contained within them. From the Wikipedia article on humanistic psychology:

The Humanistic Approach began in response to concerns by therapists against perceived limitations of Psychodynamic theories, especially psychoanalysis. Individuals like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow felt existing (psychodynamic) theories failed to adequately address issues like the meaning of behavior, and the nature of healthy growth. However, the result was not simply new variations on psychodynamic theory, but rather a fundamentally new approach.

There are several factors which distinguish the Humanistic Approach from other approaches within psychology, including the emphasis on subjective meaning, a rejection of determinism, and a concern for positive growth rather than pathology. While one might argue that some psychodynamic theories provide a vision of healthy growth (including Jung's concept of individuation), the other characteristics distinguish the Humanistic Approach from every other approach within psychology (and sometimes lead theorists from other approaches to say the Humanistic Approach is not a science at all). Most psychologists believe that behavior can only be understood objectively (by an impartial observer), but the humanists argue that this results in concluding that an individual is incapable of understanding their own behavior--a view which they see as both paradoxical and dangerous to well-being. Instead, humanists like Rogers argue that the meaning of behavior is essentially personal and subjective; they further argue that accepting this idea is not unscientific, because ultimately all individuals are subjective: what makes science reliable is not that scientists are purely objective, but that the nature of observed events can be agreed upon by different observers (a process Rogers calls intersubjective verification).

The issues underlying the Humanistic Approach, and its differences from other approaches, are discussed more fully in the text, but the sources below provide useful supplementary information. One point worth noting: if you want to fully grasp the nature of the Humanistic Approach, you cannot consider it in abstract terms. Instead, you must consider if and how the ideas connect to your own experience[citation needed]--for that is how humanistic psychologists believe the meaning of behavior is derived… The Humanistic Approach began in response to concerns by therapists against perceived limitations of Psychodynamic theories, especially psychoanalysis. Individuals like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow felt existing (psychodynamic) theories failed to adequately address issues like the meaning of behavior, and the nature of healthy growth. However, the result was not simply new variations on psychodynamic theory, but rather a fundamentally new approach.

There are several factors which distinguish the Humanistic Approach from other approaches within psychology, including the emphasis on subjective meaning, a rejection of determinism, and a concern for positive growth rather than pathology. While one might argue that some psychodynamic theories provide a vision of healthy growth (including Jung's concept of individuation), the other characteristics distinguish the Humanistic Approach from every other approach within psychology (and sometimes lead theorists from other approaches to say the Humanistic Approach is not a science at all). Most psychologists believe that behavior can only be understood objectively (by an impartial observer), but the humanists argue that this results in concluding that an individual is incapable of understanding their own behavior--a view which they see as both paradoxical and dangerous to well-being. Instead, humanists like Rogers argue that the meaning of behavior is essentially personal and subjective; they further argue that accepting this idea is not unscientific, because ultimately all individuals are subjective: what makes science reliable is not that scientists are purely objective, but that the nature of observed events can be agreed upon by different observers (a process Rogers calls intersubjective verification).

The issues underlying the Humanistic Approach, and its differences from other approaches, are discussed more fully in the text, but the sources below provide useful supplementary information. One point worth noting: if you want to fully grasp the nature of the Humanistic Approach, you cannot consider it in abstract terms. Instead, you must consider if and how the ideas connect to your own experience[citation needed]--for that is how humanistic psychologists believe the meaning of behavior is derived…

Humanistic psychology prefers qualitative research methods to the more "positivist" and "empiricist" approaches. This is part of the field's "human science" approach to psychology and involves an emphasis on the actual experience of persons (Aanstoos, Serlin & Greening, 2000). Many humanistic psychologists regard the use of quantitative methods in the study of the human mind and behaviour as misguided. This is in direct contrast to cognitivism (which aims to apply the scientific method to the study of psychology), an approach of which humanistic psychology has been strongly critical. Instead, the discipline stresses a phenomenological view of human experience, seeking to understand human beings and their behavior by conducting qualitative research. It has been suggested that the study of Humanistic Psychology be standardized by a protocol: 1. identification of researchable problem, 2. formulation of hypothesis, 3. literature review of research, 4. development of methodology, 5. data collection and analysis, 6. analysis, 7. falsification, 8. results and conclusions, and 9. interpretation. This is the "Lindblom Protocol."…

Humanistic psychology includes several approaches to counseling and therapy. Among the earliest approaches we find the developmental theory of Abraham Maslow, emphazising a hierarchy of needs and motivations; the existential psychology of Rollo May acknowledging human choice and the tragic aspects of human existence; and the person-centered or client-centered therapy of Carl Rogers, which is centered around the clients' capacity for self-direction and understanding of his/her own development (Clay, 2002).

Other approaches to humanistic counselling and therapy include Gestalt therapy, humanistic psychotherapy, depth therapy, holistic health, encounter groups, sensitivity training, marital and family therapies, body work, and the existential psychotherapy of Medard Boss (Aanstoos, Serlin & Greening (2000). Existential-integrative psychotherapy, developed by Kirk Schneider (2008), is a relatively new development within humanistic and existential therapy.

Self-help is also included in humanistic psychology. Ernst & Goodison (1981) describe using some of the main humanistic approaches in self-help groups. Co-counselling, which is a purely self-help approach, is regarded as coming within humanistic psychology (see John Rowan's Guide to Humanistic Psychology). Humanistic theory has had a strong influence on other forms of popular therapy, including Harvey Jackins' Re-evaluation Counselling and the work of Carl Rogers.

As mentioned by Clay (2002) Humanistic psychology tends to look beyond the medical model of psychology in order to open up a nonpathologizing view of the person. This usually implies that the therapist downplays the pathological aspects of a person's life in favour of the healthy aspects. A key ingredient in this approach is the meeting between therapist and client and the possibilities for dialogue. The aim of much humanistic therapy is to help the client approach a stronger and more healthy sense of self, also called self-actualization (Aanstoos, Serlin & Greening, 2000; Clay, 2002). All this is part of Humanistic psychology's motivation to be a science of human experience, focusing on the actual lived experience of persons (Aanstoos, Serlin & Greening (2000).

The field of “pop psychology” has been largely influenced by humanistic psychology. Amongst some of the better known precepts of the school of thought are two concepts that originate with Abraham Maslow; namely the “hierarchy of needs” and “self actualization”. The hierarchy of needs is illustrated in the following diagram, taken from Wikipedia:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs.png

The following explanation of the diagram and its components comes from the same Wiki article:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together as being associated with Physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. Deficiency needs must be met first. Once these are met, seeking to satisfy growth needs drives personal growth. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are satisfied. Once an individual has moved upwards to the next level, needs in the lower level will no longer be prioritized. If a lower set of needs is no longer being met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs by focusing attention on the unfulfilled needs, but will not permanently regress to the lower level. For instance, a businessman at the esteem level who is diagnosed with cancer will spend a great deal of time concentrating on his health (physiological needs), but will continue to value his work performance (esteem needs) and will likely return to work during periods of remission…”

As you no doubt have noticed, this diagram contains a capstone, which is representational of self-actualization, a process that can only be achieved when all of the lower needs have been addressed. It should be noted that the United Federation of Planets and the philosophies behind it are inexorably linked to the ongoing process of self actualization and its tenets. This should come as no surprise given the fact that Gene Roddenberry was a humanist. A more detailed explanation follows from the Wiki article on the subject:

The term was later used by Abraham Maslow in his article, A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow explicitly defines self-actualization to be "the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming."[2] Maslow used the term self-actualization to describe a desire, not a driving force, that could lead to realizing one's capabilities. Maslow did not feel that self-actualization determined one's life; rather, he felt that it gave the individual a desire, or motivation to achieve budding ambitions.[3] Maslow's usage of the term is now popular in modern psychology when discussing personality from the humanistic approach.

A basic definition from a typical college text book defines self-actualization according to Maslow simply as "the full realization of one's potential" without any mention of antiquated Goldstein.[4]

A more explicit definition of self-actualization according to Maslow is "intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately of what is the organism itself...self-actualization is growth-motivated rather than deficiency-motivated."[5] This explanation emphasizes the fact that self-actualization can not normally be reached until other lower order necessities of Maslow's hierarchy of needs are satisfied. While Goldstein defined self-actualization as a driving force, Maslow uses the term to describe personal growth that takes place once lower order needs have been met.

People that have reached self-actualization are characterized by certain behaviors. Common traits amongst people that have reached self-actualization are as follows: [6]

  • They embrace reality and facts rather than denying truth.
  • They are spontaneous.
  • They are interested in solving problems which may include personal problems or the emotional conflicts of others.
  • They are accepting of themselves and others and lack prejudice.

For Goldstein it was a motive and for Maslow it was a level of development; for both, however, roughly the same kinds of qualities were expressed: independence, autonomy, a tendency to form few but deep friendships, a "philosophical" sense of humor, a tendency to resist outside pressures and a general transcendence of the environment rather than a simple "coping" with it.[7]
Wp-logo.png
Content from this article may
have come partially, or
entirely from  
Wikipedia