An Exploration of the Nature and Development of the Humanistic Approach.

An exploration of the nature and development of the Humanistic approach.

Richard Llewellyn


This essay will firstly examine the origins of Humanistic approaches to counselling and how they evolved predominantly from the Psychodynamic approach. It will then look at the key people involved in developing the Humanistic paradigm and how this approach relates to counselling in practice. The strengths and limitations can then be highlighted in relation to the counselling situation and how it has evolved and developed. The basic standpoint I will take throughout this exploration is that the Humanistic approach is a psychological perspective and under its umbrella different schools of thought have grown which have more practicality in the therapeutic arena. The dominant approach is the Person Centred Approach developed by Carl Rogers also Abraham Maslow was a key thinker in the movement away from the Psychodynamic approach.

Humanism developed from an attempt to alter Psychology to more person-oriented objectives. The humanistic perspective is interested in a person’s everyday life behaviour rather than human behaviour as it occurs in the psychology lab. Humanistic psychology believes that behaviour must be understood in terms of the individual’s subjective experience and their behaviour can only be explained by the individual. It is the person’s perceptions and feelings that define how they behave.

There was a distinct shift away from the Psychodynamic approach and in reading the definitions of Humanistic and Person Centred approaches I noticed that there is an attempt to distance the theory from the more traditional Freudian theories. For instance Humanism believes that behaviour is not constrained or determined by the past or the present. The way in which one acts is not viewed as a response to past occurrences or present incidents. It acknowledges that it can influence behaviour but is not the key element. What is viewed as the crucial element...