The Humanistic approach is in itself a feel-good approach that seeks to encourage people to go within in order to help themselves live better lives. Humanistic psychologists who use this approach assume that a person has tendencies and beliefs that make them different from others. Thus, they take on a subjective perspective instead of a scientific approach to the study of people( Sammons, Humanistic Psychology). While this approach may appear to value the differences of people instead of trying to make different people fit into a similar ‘scientific’ category, common criticisms of this theory are the unlikelihood that a measurement of someone’s self-actualized is ever possible ( Cherry, 2014). Even though this criticism may be a valid one, scientifically speaking, Abraham Maslow, a top figure in humanistic psychology, strongly believes that by simply trying something the right way and enjoying the journey; the person will arrive progressively at the desired destination (Sze, 2015).
Main Themes of the Humanist Theory
The Humanist Theory is a theory in which a psychologist tries to help a person believe that they were born naturally good, and since they have only gone away from this path, they can return to their enjoyment of life. Through a change in focus, a person can become whatever he or she chooses to be. Thus, it makes sense why the main themes of the Humanist approach are: self-actualization, creativity, and individuality (Cherry, 2014). Instead of a person seeking outside praise to feel worthy as a person, humanist psychologists such as Carl Rogers, championed the foundation of growth potential to be “positive self regard” (Sammons, Approaches to Psychology). Without this key, a person would continue to feel that the outside world showcased only conditional love.
Conditional Love-Conditional Joy
This conditional love can even make people go so far as to desire achievements that don’t align with their important, personal desires (Sammons, Approaches to Psychology). For example, if a child grew up with a parent who wanted them to be a professional athlete or famous singer, a child could grow up to be this but still not feel fulfilled. Maslow, a top figure in humanistic theory, believes that self-actualized people embrace their whole selves as they are and are motivated by growth, among other key behaviors (Sze, 2015). Therefore, if a psychologist used the humanistic approach, they would encourage the person to follow their bliss in order to feel truly fulfilled. In this way, they could progress to becoming a self- actualized person who lives their lives the way they seem most favorable by not listening to cultural or societal “norms” for direction.
A more holistic approach
In addition to the humanist perspective of focusing on the self to actualize a person’s joy, humanistic psychology has added another layer to the traditional 3 school of psychological thought. Thus, this humanistic approach introduced a way to view an individual in all organic aspects of the self. Although many critics have criticized this approach for being too subjective, the subjects Maslow chose to derive the points of the theory are Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein (Sze, 2015). These subjects are clearly some of the smartest and self-actualized people in history so using them as research subjects appears valid when subjective biographical details are taken into account.
Even though measurements for the humanist theory may be somewhat subjective, the overall goal of a humanistic approach is to help people. The point of this holistic approach to oriented self-help is to point a person into the right direction of ways in which they can ultimately fulfill their desired potential and be more happy altogether ( Sammons, Approaches to Psychology). By a person not falling prey to what other people think of them, this person can be immune to other people’s negative views and attacks. In this way, a person can learn to stay true to his or her beliefs and not allow others to mold them (Sze, 2015). Through change of certain behaviors and motivations, a person can develop and grow progressively using the humanistic approach.
The humanist theory is, by far, a more caring way of diagnosing the best ways to help a person achieve their utmost desired goals. In addition, the humanistic approach doesn’t seek to fit people in ‘quantified-based’ categories. Instead, the founders of the humanist theory have championed a focus on each individual as a case-by-case basis in order to provide a person with an organic, caring approach to directed self-help. Even though critics dislike that the measurements of this theory aren’t very quantifiable in an objective manner, the founders of this train of thought used intellectual subjects like Abraham Lincoln to base their theories on. Ultimately, what is important for a humanist thinker is that a person is helped in a detailed, personal manner in order for the person to excel.
- Cherry, Kendra (2014). What is Humanistic Psychology? Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/hist_humanistic.htm
- Sammons, Aidan. The humanist approach: The Basics. Retrieved from http://www.psychlotron.org.uk/newResources/approaches/AS_AQB_approaches_HumanisticBasics.pdf
- Sze, David (2015). Maslow: The 12 Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person.” Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sze/maslow-the-12-characteris_b_7836836.html