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Humanistic psychology


Psychology as a science has been growing at a good rate in recent years. Being a young science, the paradigm shifts and the new challenges it faces every day are constant. The humanistic psychology plays an important role in the history of psychology , positioning itself as a current that places special emphasis on people as a whole, and not only focusing attention on specific aspects.

This current of psychology has managed to gain a foothold in the scientific theories and paradigms of mental health . Their considerations, principles and ideas have been taken into account. All this due, also, to the fact that it has numerous professionals who have had great relevance in humanistic psychology.

As we will see below, it was a complete revolution, since it had to face the ideas that prevailed in the early and mid-20th century. Behaviorism, psychoanalysis, and the new cognitive-behavioral paradigm played an important role in mental health. His hypotheses and research made psychology grow , which took on a new impulse and a breath of fresh air thanks to the approach of the humanists.

Today, the theoretical bases of humanistic psychology have been reinforced and expanded, becoming one of the main currents of psychology. Both in the academic and professional world, the humanistic approach is taken into consideration , enjoying good results.

What is humanistic psychology

Humanistic psychology is a current within psychology that offers its own perspective and paradigm. The peak of its development took place in the 50s and 60s . In this period, it emerged questioning the prevailing perspectives of psychology of the time, such as Freudian psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Two approaches that were predominant at that time.

Thanks to this great revelation, humanistic psychology was considered the third wave of psychology , meaning that behind these approaches that we have spoken about, there was another to take into account, which had taken its own place.

For those who do not know very well what humanistic psychology represents and what it means, it must be said that it does not mean that it is better or worse than the other currents. It is a different perspective, which understands the way of seeing people in a particular way that differs from other perspectives.

What stands out from the humanist current is that it is a more flexible and natural way of doing therapy . It is an eclectic vision, since it incorporates techniques from different branches of knowledge. The person is seen as a global being in a whole, where all aspects influence their problems. In this therapy the context of the person, their antecedents, difficulties and what they are looking for and what they aspire to achieve are considered. Unlike the other currents , the person is not seen as an animalthat acts like the rest, through certain mechanisms of action, instinct, reinforcements, etc. A role is given for the first time, thanks to humanistic psychology, to the most relevant, individual and responsible person. Behaviors are not labeled or pathologized, the person is helped by guiding them to their own resources so that they find their own solutions.

This stream of psychology has no problem recognizing its limitations. Since it is well known that the study of the human being is something very complex, from which no absolute statement can be extracted. Knowledge is expanding and we are increasingly capable of knowing certain processes, but the human mind is something immeasurable . This is something that humanism recognizes unlike other perspectives that have a reductionist approach to the human being.

Foundations and principles of humanistic psychology

This new paradigm of psychology has very characteristic theories and principles, opposed to the other currents. Thus establishing its bases and main values. It emphasizes that there is no single theoretical model, and that various approaches, approaches and theories must be considered. Since what really matters is to adapt in the best possible way to the problems of each individual , to help them in their process towards psychological well-being.

These are some of the most characteristic approaches of humanistic psychology:

Expanding the concept of consciousness

This therapy places a special emphasis on self-awareness. The identification we have with our self or ego, and the various states of consciousness that we can reach. The awareness implies a responsibility , it is for this reason that we work on the person to take a better awareness of himself to face the reality that does not allow him to advance.

The human being as a whole

As we have previously highlighted, this current considers the human being as a whole, a global being made up of his thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors and actions. From this perspective, human beings are considered unique and unrepeatable , and their task should be to develop their own personal characteristics through play and creativity.

Recognition of emotional aspects

In our western culture, a greater importance has been given to the rational, the thoughts, the behavior and the action. Sensations, feelings and emotions have been relegated to the background, and it has even been considered as something that had to be repressed. Humanistic psychology has the function that people incorporate their emotional aspects in their day to day , to listen, attend and manage their conflicts, instead of avoiding them.

Any unpleasant emotion, which we try to avoid, is an indicator of something that we have not resolved, so if we learn its language we can solve many difficulties.

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Confidence in self-actualization

Human beings are considered to be kind by nature, and have an innate tendency to seek self-realization. The therapist when doing therapy helps the individual to trust himself and find his own resources that lead him to feel better and better . A willingness to know your wisdom and human nature, so that you do not try to control your environment or those around you, as this is one of the main causes of frustration.

Unification between mind and body

Humanists break with this incision of the previous perspectives that focus on a specific aspect, on the one hand the mind and on the other hand the body. In the humanist current it is considered that body and mind form a whole and must be considered together.

This is how it is recognized that the body is a great source of signals and messages about how we are, what we are doing and how we feel. It is a means of expressing the emotions that we repress, the intentions that we have and the stagnant thoughts.

Outstanding Authors of Humanistic Psychology

There are various authors who are full defenders of this psychological trend. Their contributions were the cause of this paradigm where some basic foundations and principles were established, which we have previously highlighted. With a special emphasis on the capacities and resources of the human being to face their vulnerabilities and difficulties, each of these authors offers characteristic ideas and theories . Next we will review what each of these main authors who were the forerunners of humanistic psychology defended.

The Humanistic Psychology of Carl Rogers

Carlo Rogers is characterized by his non-directive and “client-centered” therapy . This type of therapy shows confidence in the person’s own therapeutic process. Considering that the most important thing in such therapy is that the therapist is able to transmit understanding and empathy towards the world of the person in front of him .

Consider that our nature is changeable , and therefore we should not put all our attention on leading a life without difficulties and without adversity. We can only accept that there are changes and we must adapt to them in the best possible way. This is one of the most relevant quotes by Carl Rogers where this idea is reflected:

“I realize that if I were stable, cautious and static I would live in death. Therefore, I accept the confusion, the uncertainty, the fear and the emotional ups and downs, because that is the price I am willing to pay for a fluid, perplexed and exciting life. ”

The Humanistic Psychology of Viktor Frankl

The psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl, known above all for surviving the Nazi concentration camps. He had his own humanistic approach which he called logotherapy. This new concept that he developed has to do with the importance of looking for what gives meaning to our lives . The author considers that the loss of meaning towards one’s own life is what generates various pathologies and neuroses.

Frankl’s goal through logotherapy is to help patients generate meaning in their lives . So that they can let go of the despair, conflict and existential emptiness that leads them to suffer from multiple disorders. Through this text we can better understand the considerations of this author so relevant to humanistic psychology:

“The way a man accepts his destiny and all the suffering that comes with it, the way he carries his cross, gives him many opportunities – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add deeper meaning to his life. You can keep your courage, your dignity, your generosity. Or, in the tough fight for survival, he may forget his human dignity and be little more than an animal, as the psychology of the prisoner in a concentration camp has reminded us. Here lies the opportunity that man has to seize or miss the opportunities to achieve the merits that a difficult situation can provide. And what decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not is. ”

The Humanistic Psychology of Abraham Maslow

He is one of the main exponents of humanistic psychology. This American psychologist is known, above all, for his theory of the hierarchy of human needs, also known as Maslow’s Pyramid .

Maslow’s revolutionary theory embraces the humanist current, focusing on the motivations and needs of each person . The highest level to be reached by a person would be that of self-realization, but before doing so, they would have to have overcome each of the steps, which include the basic and physiological needs, personal security, a sense of belonging and love, esteem and respect towards oneself. He defended the fact that each person had as a goal in his life to reach self-realization . In this sentence we can see what he was referring to:

“Self-actualized people have a deep sense of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel the kinship and connection, as if all the people were members of their family. ”

It considers that our self-esteem , confidence, security, personal satisfaction and sense of life , goes through covering each of the needs of the pyramid until finally reaching self-realization, which are more related to internal needs of a spiritual and moral nature, and search of a mission in life.

Through this theory Maslow established some of the foundations of humanistic psychology , such as personal development, the meaning of life and the active role of people for their own change towards psychological well-being.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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