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What Is Humanistic Psychotherapy?

By C. Webb
Updated Feb 11, 2024
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Humanistic psychotherapy is the mental health treatment process founded in humanistic psychology. This psychotherapy style embraces the importance of self-awareness. The basic premise is that one cannot be a productive person if one does not see his or her own value in the world. Understanding one's value pertains to the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of life. Exploring one's potential and setting goals for success are also components of humanistic psychotherapy.

While the past is an element of shaping one's life, humanistic psychotherapy also focuses on the present and future. The client works toward regaining control over his or her life. In addition, examination of past choices and learning to make more positive choices in the future are part of the therapeutic process. Humanistic psychotherapy encourages the client to be assertive in life and in sharing feelings with others.

The roots of humanistic psychotherapy are founded in behavioral and emotional beliefs from the 1950s. Early pioneers of the therapy believed that individuals crave personal growth. In addition, they believed in the basic goodness of society. With these beliefs in mind, a therapeutic method was designed embracing personal growth and self-awareness.

Several psychology theories, including existential, focused, and humanistic practices, are combined for humanistic psychotherapy. Learning to deal with everyday life stresses is a key component to success of therapy. An ability to turn challenges into growth opportunities empowers the patient, according to humanistic psychology.

The basis for the humanistic therapy method is a concentration on the client. Person-centered therapy removes the temptation to blame others or the past for life's future outcome. The client is guided to realize change is within his or her possession, if only he will take it. Setting goals, accomplishing steps, and moving toward success are core values of humanistic therapy.

During humanistic therapy sessions, the therapist does not make suggestions to the client. Instead, the client uses the therapist as a sounding board while the client develops his or her own solutions. The belief is that a client allowed to discuss whatever he or she wishes will eventually zero in on the real issues and target solutions. Self-discovery is part of this process. The client learns to discuss problems and identify solutions without therapy in the future.

Objective self-analysis is another goal of humanistic psychotherapy. Identifying problems and effective solutions are end goals to therapy sessions. In addition, removing the tendency to judge others while at the same time concentrating on one's own life help the client redirect his or her productive energy.

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