In what ways are the basic principles of the Humanistic Framework applied in contemporary counselling practice?
Critically evaluate two Humanistic approaches to counselling in light of your understanding of the Humanistic Framework, your personal philosophy and your experiences.
Humanistic psychology dates back to 5th Century Greece. It saw a revival in the mid 20th Century and is one of several counselling models in contemporary counselling practice. Although not a new concept, Humanistic models of counselling were further developed in the 20th Century as a reaction to psychoanalytical and behavioural therapies, which had, until then, dominated psychological thinking.
It asserts that we are all unique individuals with unique experiences and have the potential to become more aware of our feelings and experiences in the here and now of therapy. It assumes that human beings have an inbuilt capacity to attain growth and development in the right environment. People have an awareness of their existence and themselves in relation to others, and have the right to be self-governing. The Humanistic therapist is existential, interested in how the client makes sense of her experiences, getting a deep understanding of the client. It’s phenomenological, seeing how things appear to the client, describing the client’s experience rather than interpreting it. The approach is also experiential, looking at what it’s like to be a human being in this world. Rogers stated that:
“I do not react to some absolute reality but [rather] to my perception of this reality. It is this perception which for me is reality.” (Rogers, 1951, p.484).
Humanistic therapists assert that we are our own agents in life, are responsible for our actions, and have the capacity to heal our own psychological problems. We acknowledge the influences of the past, and we know that the future will unfold, but all we have is the here and now. Humanistic therapists believe that people are fundamentally good. The United Kingdom Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners states that ‘People are assumed to be good rather than bad’. http://www.ahpp.org/about/core.htm Core Beliefs statement – some principles of therapeutic practice. [online] Accessed [07/12/10].
Gestalt therapy is an experiential approach developed in the 1940’s and 50’s by Perls and Goodman. Gestalt looks at how the client is being, verbal and non verbal body language and what they choose not to focus on. It looks at figure and ground, paradox of change, fixed patterns, field theory and cycles of experience, and may also suggest experiments as a way of learning.
The Person Centred approach informed in the by Carl Rogers in the 1950s asserted that there are six necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change, (Rogers, 1957). He also described seven stages of process (Rogers, 1961). With a positive view of humanity, and a non-directive approach, he believed that humans could reach actualisation given the right conditions:
‘..the urge to expand, extend, develop, mature – the tendency to express and activate all the capacities of the organism, or self. (Rogers. 1961 p351).
Gestalt therapy may not be effective for clients who don’t wish to experiment or be challenged. The Gestalt therapist is more vocal than in the Person Centred approach. Person Centred therapy may not work for clients needing to learn a skill, those who are unmotivated, those seeking advice, or those who find it hard to make psychological contact. It may not work for the therapist if they felt unable to offer the client unconditional positive regard, when they would need to refer the...