Humanistic psychology refers to a perspective in psychology that believes human emotions and self-image are connected to Behavior. Humanistic psychologists study the person as a whole. This is the opposite of behaviorist psychologists who believe that behavior is a product of the environment a person is in.
Humanistic psychologists emphasize human experiences such as grief, love, and self-worth as the driving force behind human behavior. The humanistic perspective proposes that how people see themselves and how they attach meaning to their experiences relate to their behavior. Decision-making and internal needs are considered far more than responses to external stimuli or instincts.
Maslow and Moustakas believed that the core tenets of self-actualization, being, becoming, individuality, intrinsic nature, health, and creativity needed to be at the forefront of their new approach. Brandeis University sponsored the theory, thus establishing The American Association for Humanistic Psychology.Humanistic psychology, also called humanism, was developed in the 1950s due to its limitations and behaviorist and psychoanalytic perspectives. Abraham Maslow and Clark Moustakas established humanism to pursue a theory that focused on a positive outlook and had a more humanistic approach.
Humanistic psychology assumes that:
Humanism stresses that subjective reality is the basis of behavior and that focusing on the individual is more important than relying on averages produced by a group of individuals. This view is drastically different than the medical model, which assumes that physical problems cause emotional and behavioral issues and thus should be medically treated.
There are some conditions where the medical model should be applied, such as cases of traumatic brain injury impacting behavior; however, humanistic psychology recognizes that using the medical model can be problematic for many mental health problems.
Humanistic psychology also maintains that mental health problems can improve through psychotherapy and are often linked to interpersonal relationships, not the medical model. Psychologists who follow the medical model believe that people with mental health issues have illnesses that need diagnosing and treating. Diagnosing these illnesses is done through observing symptoms. Humanistic psychologists believe in the uniqueness of the individual that needs interpersonal relationships to thrive. The humanistic approach does not rely on symptoms and instead emphasizes how a person sees themselves and self-growth.
Objective studies are not used in humanistic therapy because therapists that use the humanistic model believe that human nature cannot be reduced to mere numbers and statistics. Instead, humanistic psychology uses participant observation, unstructured interviews, and other qualitative measures to collect data.
Using the humanistic approach, interviews and humanistic therapy are not directed towards any particular topic, and the patient is not lead towards any particular answer. A humanistic therapist can also use a patient’s journal, drawings, or other material for analysis.
In humanistic psychology therapy, Carl Roger’s technique of person-centered therapy is used. This practice is also referred to as Rogerian Therapy and suggests people each have individual priorities of needs that dictate their drive and sense of self. Using this approach, humanistic psychology therapists use non-pathological methods and target adaptive and beneficial traits and individual behaviors during treatment.
Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs
One of the foundations of humanistic psychology is that people have a hierarchy of needs that must be met for a positive self-image and fulfillment. The hierarchy of needs was developed by Abraham Maslow (a humanistic theory) and comprised five tiers that are usually depicted as a pyramid. Maslow developed this theory of motivation in the 1940s and 1950’s. The theory’s basis suggests that people have needs that take precedent over others and must be met before other fulfillment levels can be reached.
The foundation of the pyramid is physiological needs. These needs are the basic needs a human has to survive-access to food, water, sleep, and warmth. Without these basic human needs being met, a person cannot be expected to contribute and be a well-adjusted member of society.
The next level is also basic needs but are the things we are concerned with after being fed and rested. These are human safety and security needs. A person must feel safe, trust those around them, and live a relatively safe life before they can begin building relationships.
The third step of the pyramid begins with our psychological needs. Once our basic needs are met, we are motivated to make friends and build intimate relationships. We are motivated by the desire to belong and experience love.
The fourth level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is Esteem. Once others accept us, we begin to feel accepted in ourselves. Feelings of accomplishment and prestige motivate us. We want to be better and explore our potential.
The final stage of the hierarchy of needs is the need for human self-fulfillment. Once we have met our basic and psychological needs, we can achieve self-actualization-when a person reaches their full potential. This final step of the pyramid is where people also find success with creative endeavors.
In his later work, Maslow did clarify that we can simultaneously experience these needs and that each level does not have to be met 100% before experiencing a need for other levels. However, the longer a person goes without meeting these needs, the more they will strive to reach them. We cannot grow as a person, however, until self-actualization determines our motivation.
How To Reach Self-Actualization
Reaching self-actualization is not as hard as one may think. Maslow believed that self-actualization could be measured through peak experiences and achieved through artistic success, sport, academics, or a corporate leadership environment. The more a person experiences joy, euphoria, and wonder, the more self-actualized they are.
Maslow estimated that only 2% of humans would become self-actualized. Maslow studied people such as Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein to determine the characteristics of people who had reached a start of self-actualization.
Maslow determined that these characteristics marked a person who had reached a state of self-fulfillment.
Maslow was also able to create recommendations for behaviors that would lead to self-actualization. Maslow believed that if you retain a childlike perception of life, full of wonder and curiosity, try new things, take risks, listen to your heart, be honest, prepare to be unpopular, and take responsibility while working hard and having the courage to give up your defenses, you could reach self-actualization.
While no two humans are alike or perfect, there is no one perfect way to reach self-actualization. Humanistic psychology is centered around the idea of the individual. Thus reaching the final stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy will be achieved differently for everyone. Humanistic psychologists will also point out that people do not have to have all the characteristics of a self-actualized person to become one, just as people who are not at this stage may exhibit these traits.
One of the best ways that you can begin the path to self-actualization is through humanistic therapy. Many different techniques are used in psychotherapy that can help you to determine where you are at on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Knowing which of your needs are met and what you need to work on can be sorted out through discussions with therapists and counselors. You can get started talking to someone today online through my therapist.
What is a humanistic approach in psychology?
A humanistic psychological approach is one that emphasizes the study of the whole person. A humanistic psychologist looks at human behavior through an observer's eyes and through the person's eyes doing the behaving, which makes the humanistic approach a holistic approach. There are different clinical psychology approaches, but humanistic psychology's basic postulates cite an entire situation when looking at classifying behavior and determining treatment.
What is an example of humanistic psychology?
The humanistic approach to psychology focuses directly on an individual's growth in love, fulfillment, self-worth, and autonomy. This approach emphasizes that physiological needs, such as safety and belonging, are needed before an individual can progress to different levels outlined in psychology. For example, the humanistic approach may look at criminals’ actions and their upbringing and general life leading up to their actions to conduct humanistic psychology theory research on why they did that action.
Is humanistic psychology still used today?
Humanistic psychology is as relevant today as it was when it was introduced. This approach emphasizes an individual's psychology history and encourages individuals to enhance their well-being to move toward emotional and physical fulfillment. The humanistic approach is technically still new compared to other positive psychology theories and is a force in psychology that some don’t accept. Humanistic psychology's association is always adding new entries to the journal of humanistic psychology.
What are the principles of humanistic theory?
The humanistic theory has five main principles and values: human beings supersede the sum of their parts, human beings exist in a uniquely human context, human beings are conscious, human beings have some choice, and human beings are intentional with goals.
What is Maslow's humanistic theory?
The humanistic approach to psychology under Maslow’s belief is a hierarchy. A humanistic psychologist may follow this hierarchy to determine where an individual is at in their personality. Known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this theory argues that positive psychology, negative psychology, and all parts of psychology have different stages. There are five main “needs” within this humanistic approach to self-actualization: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Examples, in order, include food/water, the security of body and employment, friendship and family, confidence and achievements, and fin, ally morality and problem-solving. More exist at each level, but these are the basic needs of humans according to Maslow’s hierarchy. He believed that each need's successful fulfillment was vital to developing a full personality within a person seeking to achieve their maximum potential. The psychology humanistic approach focuses on looking at a person’s psychology history to determine how many needs they had fulfilled in their lives.
How do humanistic psychologists view personality?
A humanistic psychologist views personality that is focused on the potential for healthy personal growth and a person striving for self-realization. An individual humanistic psychologist working with a patient will use the humanistic approach to see that patient’s life through their eyes to develop a treatment plan. Some psychology humanistic practitioners reject Maslow’s hierarchy of personality through fulfilled needs, whereas others do.
Who is the father of humanistic psychology?
The two founders of the humanistic approach were Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. From their research and beliefs, the humanistic approach evolved as a force in psychology that made many rethink the field. The journal of humanistic psychology and handbook of humanistic psychology evolved from Rogers and Maslow’s psychology beliefs.
How do you become a humanistic psychologist?
To become a humanistic psychologist and contribute to the humanistic psychology handbook, one of the most common requirements is a doctorate in philosophy that deals with human behavior. One year of practice under supervision and a license is also required. Naturally, achieving a doctorate means achieving a bachelor's and master’s degree beforehand. All in all, this may be a 10-11 year process.