The humanistic movement was established as a way to expand and improve upon the two other schools of thought; behaviourism and psychoanalysis, which had, up until the first half of the 20th century dominated psychology. An American theorist called Abraham Maslow began to research creativity in humans through art and science. He first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation”. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is most often displayed as a pyramid. The lowest levels of the pyramid are made up of the most basic needs, while the more complex needs are located at the top of the pyramid. Maslow emphasised the importance of self-actualisation, which is a process of growing as a person to achieve individual potential. The humanistic movement wanted to take a more holistic look at psychology by encouraging personal growth and self awareness. In 1964, Maslow, along with fellow theorists Carl Rogers, the psychologist responsible for person-centred therapy, and Rollo May, an existential psychologist who represented the European currents of existentialism, attended the First Invitational Conference on Humanistic Psychology in Connecticut, USA. It was during this conference that the third force in psychology was named and the humanistic approach was born. This approach expanded its influence throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, and continues to be extremely relevant today. A strong area of this approach is the focus on the goodness of humanity, as well as the free will to change. The most significant criticism is its lack of specific approach to treatment aimed at precise problems.
The humanistic movement has made a profound impact on society. It focuses on recognising human capabilities in areas such as personal growth and choice. The importance of this approach lies in the fact that it has encouraged acceptance of the view that there is more to behaviour than objectively discovered facts. The humanistic approach comprises of three main elements: phenomenology - through empathy, a counsellor can assist their client to find solutions to their own problems; existentialism - using self awareness and self realisations to develop a positive view of a persons own reality, therefore giving them a quality of life; humanism - exploring an individual’s creativity and encouraging self awareness. The very strength of the humanistic approach, the focus on the conscious experience, is also its weakness when approached scientifically. There are many different types of humanistic counselling, all of which involve a close counselling relationship between the counsellor and the client. The person-centred (also known as client-centred or rogerian) approach to counselling, developed by Carl Rogers, sees human beings as having difficulty developing towards their full potential. The organismic self within us is only intact for a short space of time, and can soon become corrupted by what is called the self concept. This is the term given to explain outside influences on the organismic self. The development towards full potential can be distorted by life experiences, in particular those who tell us we are only loved or valued if we behave in certain ways and not others. The pressure to conform can be immense. As a result, because we have a deep need to feel valued, we tend to deny to our awareness those of our inner experiences that we believe will not be acceptable. Originally described as non-directive, this form of therapy moved away from the idea that the counsellor was the expert and towards a theory that trusted the actualising tendency of clients to find their own personal potential. The actualising tendency is directional and present in all living things, but can sometimes be suppressed. The counsellor aims to provide an environment in which the client does not feel under threat or judgement. This enables the client to experience and accept more of who they are as a person, and reconnect with their own...
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