Topic 3: Phenomenological-Humanistic Approach (by 10/7)

There are three readings due this week – Text Ch. 12 and two Rogers (1995) chapters.  Address the following two discussion points: (1) There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory.  (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory. Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 10/7.  Have your two replies no later than 10/9.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

47 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brittany King
    Oct 03, 2015 @ 16:50:23

    (1) There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory.
    One useful aspect to take away from the humanistic approach is within client-centered therapy. Within this therapy approach, it is essential to provide empathetic understanding which is to understand the patient’s thoughts and feelings, and then accept them and the client no matter what they are (Mischel, Shoda & Ayduk 2008). Rogers’s ideal therapy approach was an empathetic, interview-based relationship that provided the client an unconditional, accepting relationship. Also, Rogers believed that within client-centered therapy, it is essential for the therapist to learn how their client thinks, understands, and feels because that is the best way to learn about their behavior (2008). This therapy approach created by Rogers, emphasized empathy and building a relationship with the client which is extremely important in therapy. The reason this is useful to take away is because unlike psychodynamic therapy, the focus was on the person’s perceived reality, subjective experiences, and the striving for self-actualization, potential growth, freedom, and self-determination (2008).

    (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory.
    One weakness of the humanistic approach is that is difficult to test scientifically with there being little supporting research. This approach is more based on a philosophical concept that is abstract which results in an approach that is not empirical in nature (Mischel, Shoda & Ayduk 2008). The reason this is an issue is because it is near impossible to know how well an approach works if it is not scientifically testable. Another potential weakness of the humanistic approach is that it is more focused in the present and does not focus on the past (2008). The reason this could be concerned as a potential weakness is because in some cases, a person’s past will be currently impacting their present behavior. For example, if someone has PTSD, a traumatic event or experience, is impacting their current behavior thus it would be important to explore the persons history.

    Reply

    • Jillian Harrison
      Oct 05, 2015 @ 16:14:44

      Brittany,

      I really liked that you brought up how humanistic therapeutic techniques are not testable, and therefore it is hard to know what works and what doesn’t. Much like Freud and psychodynamic theory, there seem to be concepts that work and lead us to be more effective therapists, but are not universally proven. While I think that it is important to have therapeutic techniques and explanations of behavior that have empirical evidence to support them, I also believe that this more subjective, client-center approach is important to be successful. Not everything that happens to us in life is scientifically backed or proven by hard science to effect us in a uniform way. There is a degree of subjectivity, emotions, and willpower associated with normal functioning and the humanistic approach gives us the opportunity to explore those therapeutic options.

      Reply

  2. Heather Lawrence
    Oct 04, 2015 @ 14:33:09

    1. The humanistic approach serves to be very useful. It emphasizes the study of the whole person. Humanistic therapists look at human behavior not only through the eyes of the therapist, but through the eyes of the client and their behavior. There is unconditional positive regard offering support with lack of judgment and allows the client to express both positive and negative feelings in an empathetic setting (i.e. unstructured interviews). Their personality is studied from the point of view of the client’s subjective experience. For Rogers, the focus of psychology is not behavior (Skinner), or the unconscious (Freud), but how individuals perceive and interpret their events. Personal agency is the humanistic term for the exercise of free will. It refers to the choices we make in life, the paths we go down and their consequences. The humanistic approach is optimistic. People are viewed as basically good, and have an innate self-actualization and a need to make themselves and the world better. It also emphasizes the personal worth of the individual based on human values, creativity, and the nature of human beings. It focuses on noble human capacity to overcome hardship, pain, and despair. For humanistic psychologists, research on animals held little about human thought and experience. The way to really understand other people is to sit down and talk with them, share their experiences and be open to their feelings versus dehumanizing and unable to capture the richness of conscious experience. In sum, it shifted the focus on behavior to the individual/whole person versus the unconscious mind, genes, and observable behavior. Another strength is, it satisfies most people’s idea of what being human means because it values personal ideals and self-fulfillment. Its qualitative data gives genuine insight and more holistic information into behavior. Finally, it highlights the value of more individualistic and idiographic methods of the study of a fully functioning person (completely congruent living in the moment).
    2. Like any therapeutic approach, humanistic psychology has its limitations. It ignores biology (e.g. testosterone). It is also unscientific with subjective concepts, it cannot objectively measure self-actualization. Humanism ignores the unconscious mind. In comparison, in behaviorism the human and animal behavior can be compared by qualitative data. It is difficult to compare. Also, their belief in free will is in opposition to the deterministic laws of science. It’s a non-scientific approach in studying humans. Several large-scale studies have shown that the three qualities that Rogers emphasized, genuineness, unconditional positive regard, and empathetic understanding, are all beneficial. However, some studies have found these factors alone are not necessarily enough to promote lasting change in clients.

    Reply

    • Jillian Harrison
      Oct 05, 2015 @ 16:07:52

      Heather,

      The one line that really stuck out to me in your post is that Humanistic Therapy is optimistic. I had never really thought about the therapy this way before, but you are completely right. Much like positive psychology, it assumes that people are inherently good and that people have the power to enhance their lives in whichever way they want to. I think this is really important in modern therapy because there is such a negative stigma on mental illness or just struggling to cope with life’s hardships in general, that people often lose the empowerment needed to make positive change. Humanistic therapy and its optimistic qualities really gives that empowerment back to the individual and allows them to find the confidence and tools they need within themselves.

      Reply

      • Heather Lawrence
        Oct 08, 2015 @ 22:05:52

        Absolutely, it is crucial that as therapists we empower our clients. Stigma is very relevant. People with mental illness are not only being labeled by others, but themselves as well. Stigma is internalized. It can create self-stigma in which the label predominates self-concept and reduces self-esteem. They are seen as being mentally ill instead of having a mental illness. When I work with clients in a group setting/individual, I emphasize that the individual is not their illness, i.e.”I have bipolar disorder” versus “I am bipolar.” I also try to use words like mental condition and wellness instead of illness, or disease. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes are associated with mental illness. Stigma can have negative consequences for self-concept by lowering self-efficacy, which fosters dysfunctional coping styles and ultimately reduces the quality of self-concept. On a positive note- a label could foster self-acceptance, causing one to seek treatment.

        Reply

    • Brittany King
      Oct 05, 2015 @ 18:22:06

      Heather,

      I also agree with you that an important part of the humanistic approach is the take away of viewing the individual as a whole where patients are encouraged to focus on their decisions, with major emphasis on free will. One part of this approach that I found important was the ability for their to be great emphasis on the patients experience and their own viewpoint which was lacking before this approach. The idea behind it is that the patient knows more about himself or herself than anyone else and that how they experience something is completely unique to them. When I think about this approach, I think that it is almost uniquely designed for each indivdual. Great post!

      Reply

      • Heather Lawrence
        Oct 08, 2015 @ 22:22:33

        Brittany- Yes, the client should be viewed as a whole person with the focus on their decisions with the emphasis on free will through their own experience and viewpoint. As humans we can vary i.e. socioeconomic background, age , or even gender etc. Therapy should be tailored to a client’s specific symptoms and concerns. For example, an individual who has obsessive- compulsive disorder , the treatment will differ from someone who’s getting anxiety attacks. The length of therapy will also depend on the type and severity of one’s anxiety disorder. Many anxiety disorders are relatively short-term. According to the American Psychological Association, many people improve significantly within 8-10 therapy sessions with individual expectations, attitudes, and beliefs. According to Dr. Judith Beck, in cognitive behavioral therapy, the client can be their own therapist. At each therapy session, cognitive behavior therapists help their client to identify the problems they have had during the week for example. Then they collect the data to identify the ideas and behaviors that are challenging the client’s ability to solve these problems their selves. Here the client’s are actively engaged in deciding where to start working. Together, they develop an “action plan” or homework for the client to implement solutions to problems, or to make changes in their thinking factors. They begin to recognize that the way to get better is to make small changes in how they think and what they do every day.

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    • Salome Wilfred
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 16:34:28

      Heather,

      I really like your point that humanistic therapy highlights the value of more individualistic and idiographic methods of studying people. This approach significantly helped with creating a more effective therapy approach. A preoccupation with how one person’s behavior is the same as another person, which is what most past therapy focused on, simplifies the human experience. That simplification prevents the possibility of empathy and personal growth, which is what therapy should focus on. Having the therapist step back and focus on the individual in that moment was a huge step in making therapy more effective.

      Reply

  3. Jillian Harrison
    Oct 05, 2015 @ 16:00:15

    The humanistic approach was created in partial response to previous theories in the field that psychologists such as Rogers and Maslow did not agree with. The approach was centered around being “holistic” and would look at the individual as a complete and whole person and focus on the experiences of the self rather than biological influences or learning (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk, 298). There are many strengths to an approach that focuses on the person, but the main aspect of the theory that I think is most beneficial is the idea of the congruent therapist. Created by Carl Rogers, the congruent therapist is free to be him- or herself and to be completely open and accepting of the client beginning with their first encounter (Mischel et al., 310). The idea behind this approach as a therapist is to create an unconditional relationship with the client that allows them to feel more at ease accepting their own feelings and behaviors; this acceptance allows for greater self-actualization and progress by the client (Mischel, et al., 310). Being that we are all going to be future therapists someday, I think that also focusing on how we must interact with the client is really important as opposed to only learning about how the client will interact with us or their social world. We, as therapists, will have a great deal of influence over the success of our clients and Rogers was one of the first to focus some of his theory on the therapist and how they can be more effective with the client.

    With strengths, also comes weaknesses, which there are a few associated with the humanistic approach. Personally, I believe the biggest weakness with humanistic theory is that it is not adequate in treating more severe forms of mental disorders. This theory works well with those who are struggling with more minor issues or general trouble in functioning in their day-to-day lives. But it is not enough to treat more serious issues such as schizophrenia or post traumatic stress disorder. No amount of acceptance or individual willpower will change the course of an individual’s life with PTSD or schizophrenia, at least, not on by itself. In this regard, the humanistic approach could be a supplement to cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmaceutical interventions, but as an exclusive form of therapy it is not sufficient for treating more debilitating disorders.

    Reply

    • Brittany King
      Oct 05, 2015 @ 16:57:13

      Jillian,

      You made an excellent point about therapist needing to learn how to interact with clients and that often, this point can be overlooked. If you think about it at a basic level, the client can only be as effective as the therapist. What I mean by this is that if you are cultivating a non-supportive, restrictive environment, you will likely not have a positive interaction with the client. It is hard for me not to do these blogs and not reflect on my experience in life and in the field. For example, this point you brought up made me think back to my relationships with clients I have worked with and how I have had an influence on their success based on the relationships I have built with them and then observing how those clients who have not been successful once leaving my program, were the ones who did not have any strong relationships with their caregivers. Great job taking the material one step further and allowing me to explore this topic deeper.

      Reply

    • ana.cerdapaulino@assumption.edu
      Oct 06, 2015 @ 20:26:07

      You bring up a brilliant point in your post. Roger’s did integrate the therapist on a more personal level than some of the other approaches we have studied so far. The congruent therapist being open and “real” with the client is an aspect that one may undervalue and completely overlook; however, it is an important aspect in therapy as we have learned from the Freudian perspective of transference. Although these two concepts are not the same, they are similar in focusing on the interpersonal relationship between the therapist and the client as being an integral part in healing and outcomes. It is definitely one aspect that we should take into account in our training and hopefully integrate in our approach to therapy.

      Reply

    • Gabriel Lamptey
      Oct 08, 2015 @ 20:02:36

      Jillian,

      I do agree with your point that sides with the prevalent view that treating psychotic individuals with psychotherapy for most part is unsuccessful, but the humanistic perspective or emphasis on the therapeutic relationship characterized especially by congruence and acceptance addresses the challenge of stigma which most schizophrenics or individual’s with one form of a mental health struggle, battles. In humanistic therapy, the therapist can help even a schizophrenic accept who they are by reflecting acceptance of the psychotic individual. In most cases, if a psychotic individual feels accepted and not judged neither stigmatized they turn to be honest with themselves, and embrace therapeutic support in whichever direction.

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    • Anissa Rader
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 21:19:39

      Jillian, you and I both discussed that the most prominent weakness of humanistic approach is that it seems to be a treatment for those who are more high functioning than those who are not. Regardless of how accepting a therapist is or how free and comfortable they allow a client to feel, some simply will not take, whether by choice or inability, the initiative to guide their own healing process. Self actualization would not be able to be achieved and healing would not take place either. In my opinion if a therapist tried to consistently implement this approach with those who were affected with more severe mental disorders, burn out to some degree would take place simply because they were trying so hard yet the client would not be able to progress despite their potential best effort to do so.

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  4. Erin Mamott
    Oct 06, 2015 @ 16:04:25

    1) One thing in particular which I like about the humanistic approach is the view of the person (client). The person is seen as a unique individual who is capable to change and knows most fully his or her internal experience of the world (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk, 2008, p 300). Understanding this experience is essential in the humanistic approach to therapy. There is an emphasis on every person’s need to be understood and accepted, by self and others (Rogers, 1995, pp 37-38). In many of the specific theories there is also an emphasis that the therapist is not above the client in knowledge about the problem which has brought the client to therapy or what specific treatment will be the ultimate fix/cure (Rogers, 1995, p 53). I particularly liked George Kelly’s personal construct theory and the emphasis on the therapist not assuming to understand what the client means when he or she makes descriptions (Mischel et al., 2008, p 316). The conceptual alternatives also was of interest to me and reminded me of some acting techniques. In theater, during character analysis, the actor is tasked to come up with all sorts of alternatives to the character on a variety of levels (attitude, tone, motivation, actions, thoughts, emotions, interpersonal relations, etc.). Similarly during therapy it seems that when exploring conceptual alternatives the client is tasked with doing a similar thing by coming up with how others might be interpreting the situation and how the client himself or herself could interpret the situation more effectively (Mischel et al., 2008, pp 318-319).
    2) One of the first criticisms which come to my mind, especially with the more Rogerian approach, is that this type of therapy is ideal for higher functioning clients, but is not necessarily beneficial for those struggling with specific disorders or who lack the capacity to introspect enough to come up with a solution on their own. This does not take away from the innate need for social contact and warmth, but that if the therapist is too passive it could potentially cause harm or at least not do the client any favors. In personal construct theory, I find the underlying philosophy of “the individual is what he does” (Mischel et al., 2008, p 320) to be flawed. I think that there is a distinct human nature which can be known but difficult to define in words. Given the time in which much of this approach was developed and the approaches to which it was a response, I think humanistic approaches do a better job at defining what a person needs for healthy functioning, however there is still room for improvement.

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    • ana.cerdapaulino@assumption.edu
      Oct 06, 2015 @ 20:19:56

      I wholeheartedly agree with your point about the practical application of the Rogerian approach. You mentioned that his method of psychotherapy would really only be applicable to insightful or higher functioning individuals. It does not tend to target clients who may struggle with developmental disorders that would affect their interpersonal relationships but rather clients who have the skills to form these relationships and then apply the insight gained in the healing relationship to other ones in their lives. I also found very interesting the humanistic view of a person as being capable of producing change and understanding their psychological environment.

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    • Mark Joyce
      Oct 08, 2015 @ 22:28:10

      I also agree with your assessment of the flaws in humanistic approaches, Erin. With the client leading a majority of the therapy with the assistance of the therapist it is necessary to have a high functioning patient. In my own experience working on a long term residential that employed humanistic approaches centered on empathy and unconditional positive regard. These patients undoubtedly benefited from empathy and positive regard when expressing their feelings. The main problem comes in establishing connections between feelings and behaviors in such a sick population and they require much more guidance than typically afforded in a humanistic approach. Additionally, working with such a volatile population demonstrated that therapies need to be active in their application and cannot allow the patient to stumble upon their own solution. The humanistic approach certainly still has its strengths when client’s are able to invest time in their introspection.

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  5. ana.cerdapaulino@assumption.edu
    Oct 06, 2015 @ 20:07:18

    The most useful component of the humanistic approach is the personal construct theory. George Kelly considered that elaboration of the individual meanings of constructs was valuable to the understanding of the individual. Personal constructs emerge as important for therapy because they help us understand and clarify the client’s views of the world. One construct can mean one thing to a person and can vary from another’s idea or definition of the same construct. This approach helps to elaborate on what constructs mean to the individuals and allows for a more holistic approach to understanding the client and their experiences. For example, a person may have grown up in a traumatic environment not conducive to a healthy development but because they grew up in this manner, this may become their basis of “norm” and anything that deviates from this “norm” is aversive and maladaptive to them. If, as therapists, we can come to understand that they do not see their environment as traumatic, we can start to work on redefining their constructs or elaborating on these constructs rather than forcing our views of what is dysfunctional into their lives. It is important to identify the aspects of an experience that an individual focuses on in order to better understand the personal definition of a construct that influences their thinking, feeling and behavior.

    Rogers claims that empathic relationships are key features to therapeutic healing. There is value in being able to understand and connect with clients on this level. This therapeutic relationship allows a client to feel safe and liked; this leads to a feeling of secure space in which they can freely express their feelings and problems or at least begin to explore them (similar to the goal of transference in Freudian terms). When a relationship where trust has been built exists, it facilitates a person to open up and share. Roger’s relation to Harlow’s experiment on attachment in monkeys is very interesting. He claims that no amount of tangible reward will be enough of a motivator compared to relational warmth and certain qualities in interpersonal relations that are desired or necessary. I agree that attitude presented in the development of relationships helps to shape our interpersonal interactions and influence our development, behaviors and even our self-image. It may influence all these aspects though it may not necessarily directly lead to change and transformation. There are other mechanisms and theories to consider in producing change in behavior and attitude. These include conditions that would motivate someone to maintain a behavior or change their approach such as a spouse threatening to leave a relationship if change does not occur (I in no way am saying that I believe this particular method yields results, it is just an example of outside conditions that may motivate behavior or personality change not just intrinsic autonomous conditions).

    I disagree with Roger’s assumption that in an appropriate therapeutic relationship, the potential for motivation is released. This does not necessarily account for individuals with no motivational aspects to change behavior. This is a weakness of the humanistic approach; it is based on autonomous and intrinsic motivations to self-actualize. There is no environmental conditions to motivate behavior or maintain behavior. It relies solely on an individuals’ desire rather than outside factors. There is evidence that reveals that there are conditioned stimuli that motivate or illicit behaviors and reinforcement that illicit or maintains behaviors that may not be related to self-actualization or intrinsic autonomous motivation. By ignoring these factors we miss out on the potential to control and adapt behaviors in a deterministic fashion.

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  6. Meagan Monteiro
    Oct 06, 2015 @ 22:13:55

    (1) There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory. (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory.
    There are many components of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. I find several components to have great utility, first, Rogers’ emphasis on the therapeutic relationship. In his chapter, On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy, Rogers emphasizes the importance of providing a relationship where “the other person will discover within himself the capacity to use the relationship for growth and change, and personal development will occur” (Rogers, 1995). I think this aspect is important because it shows that with the right support and in the right environment, a person can adapt and reach their full potential. Rogers’ work shows the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the qualities that best exemplify it. For example, empathy is one of the most important qualities. Empathy not only allows a clinician to fully understand a person’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations, but also is therapeutic for the client. If a clinician is empathetic, a client will feel that they have worth and are being listened to. Another important aspect highlighted in Rogers’ work was his emphasis on genuineness. When a clinician is genuine, it is not only more helpful for the client, but it eliminates the bias of the clinician. As a therapist it is important to be aware of potential bias, and also how a clinician reactions may be affecting a client. By being genuine and monitoring reactions, a clinician will be more aware of how they affect their clients. Another useful part of the humanistic approach is viewing people as a whole entity and not simply based upon observable behavior, or primal drives such as aggression.
    Some criticisms of the humanistic approach is that while this approach can be useful in a therapeutic approach it is too subjective to provide explanations for human behavior, or the development of personality. There are no observable quantities in which to measure, nor any explanations for what causes people to behave in the way in which they do. With an emphasis on each person’s unique experience, it is difficult to make generalizations regarding all human behavior or emotions. While the humanistic approach is useful during therapy and when connecting with others, it lacks any empirical evidence and prevents any further analysis in the field.

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    • Janean Desjardins
      Oct 07, 2015 @ 01:31:07

      I think it’s great that you bring up empathy as one of the most important qualities. I personally believe that you cannot be a good therapist without it. It’s good to be able to have an understanding of what a person is experiencing or feeling from their point of view. A patient will be able to feel that you are trying to appreciate their story and feel like they are being listened to. At the end of the end all patients want is to be appreciated, understood, and heard. As a therapist to have empathy toward a patient and put yourself in their shoes and try to have compassion of where they are coming from can go a long way. But be careful not to cross the line of empathy with sympathy and be sure to keep the boundaries up.

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  7. Anissa Rader
    Oct 06, 2015 @ 22:25:38

    Created in the 1950‘s in response to theories implemented previously, the humanistic approach was developed by psychologists including Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. The approach was meant to promote holistic psychology which would study a person in their entirety rather than just part of who they were.(Rogers, 1995, pp 37,38). Though there are numerous useful aspects of using this approach, the one which I believe is most influential is that of congruency in the therapist. This idea allowed the therapist to, “feel free to be them self and to accept the client fully and immediately,” during a session and this is conveyed clearly to the client as well. (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk, 298). By implementing this aspect of the humanistic approach, the therapist is helping to create an unconditional relationship with the client and promoting them to be more accepting of what they are feeling and how they are behaving. By doing so, this promotes greater self actualization and internal congruity and progress for them which is what the goal is. (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk, 298). Another aspect of the humanistic approach that I felt was important in it’s usefulness is the concept that the client is viewed as being capable of self development and making changes. One of the most important parts of this aspect of the humanistic approach is that the client is viewed as being good and the therapist must emphasize their want to understand and accept the client as unconditionally judgement free as possible.

    Though there are a number of benefits, there are also weaknesses which this approach presents. Though the approach appears to help treat those with minor mental disorders, I don’t believe that it would be beneficial in treating those suffering from more severe mental disorders that affect the functioning of their lives to a greater capacity. Approaching a client with acceptance and understanding is beneficial but for someone who is suffering from abnormal behaviors and thoughts that are more extreme this approach may not be enough to promote growth. Higher functioning clients are capable of thinking more rationally and are more in tune with their own potential to make change and growth. Also, someone who presents as functioning on a much lower level, may not possess enough motivation to want to change making this approach potentially dangerous for the patient as their maladaptive behavior/thinking could potentially become more harmful putting them in danger.

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    • Janean Desjardins
      Oct 07, 2015 @ 01:20:28

      I think you bring up a great point that person-centered therapy is best when working with higher functioning patients. I feel like this approach is best for those that are self-aware and already have somewhat of a grasp as to what is going on. It would be better suited for people who need sort of a “tune up” so to speak in therapy. People need to be able to do work on their own and if you have someone that is low functioning that is not going to happen. If you are working with someone that does has a major mental disorder using this method it can be potentially harmful as they will not be able to handle therapy as a self-function and need to rely on a therapist for some help.

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    • Marisa Molinaro
      Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:32:22

      Anissa, I also wrote about how this therapy approach may be limited when trying to treat clients that have more severe disorders. I like how you also incorporated their motivations to change and how this therapy approach may not cater to that as strongly as others. I agree with this completely and I feel that this therapy approach is going to be the most successful with high-functioning individuals who have strong insight into their own lives and their situations. For those who may have many maladaptive thoughts and tendencies, this theory may not be structured correctly for them to achieve optimal growth.

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    • Julia Sherman
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 13:29:24

      I like your point that in humanistic psychology, the client is viewed as being capable of making changes. Although this seems like common sense today, it was a new idea in the field of psychology at the time. Freud believed that clients could not experience improvement in their mental health unless they were assisted by a trained professional, largely due to the fact that, in his theory, we could not learn our own unconscious thoughts. Similarly, behavioral psychologists believed that behavior stemmed from the various reinforcements and punishment that we have experienced, leaving people unable to adjust behavior on their own. The humanists were some of the first psychologists to put responsibility in the hands of clients, which I find to be much more empowering and effective. Anyone who has experience in the mental health field knows that if a client does not want to improve, then there will be little to no improvement. Client involvement is essential in effective therapy, which humanistic psychologists recognized.

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  8. Janean Desjardins
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 01:12:22

    There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory.

    Humanistic Psychology began in the 1950’s promoting a holistic approach to psychology, study the individual as a whole. It gave the individual a degree of freedom and potential for self-change by focusing on the here and now. Carl Rogers founded “Person-Centered” or “Client-Centered” therapy approach with the idea being a person’s own experience and beliefs are the most important role in self-development. When you have a therapist that is warm, empathic, and self-accepting to the patient then the patient will “feel free” to open up to the therapist. Once they are able to open up to the therapist, they are able to see the inconsistencies between who they are and their current self-development. After these inconsistencies are recognized by the patient, the patient is able to change own their own. It seems to be a straight forward method and requires a client who is ready and capable of their own self-development. If you have a patient that is not ready or at a high functioning level this method may not work.

    (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory

    A weakness that I see would be a lack of research and also a lack of validity in the research that has been done already. The research that we read about was very subjective in nature as most if not all of it came directly from what the patient was thinking or feeling. There was little or no blind testing or independent studies making it very it very difficult to show that this theory is not bias. More testing needs to be done that doesn’t rely strictly on just the patient’s thoughts and feelings. Just this process is based on the patient’s feelings and thoughts but there are ways that data can be gathered through observation for example (without contamination) to start gathering some stable research.

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  9. Mark Joyce
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:04:58

    The series of advances made by the phenomenological-humanistic approach set the tone for future treatment theories by shifting away from psychodynamic and behavioral analysis. The specific features and strengths of this approach were what really differentiated it from previous schools of thought. With psychodynamic and behavioral approaches focusing more on the events of the past and learned behaviors, phenomenological-humanistic theorists shaped therapeutic approaches for decades to come. There are a variety of influencing characteristics of this approach, and multiple prove essential to the theory: empathy, and the ideal self. Empathy as described in this approach implies that the therapist is genuinely involved, strives to understand the client’s subjective experience, and display unconditional positive regard. This is a stark contrast to psychodynamic therapy which employed transference as a tool of change, where the humanistic approach attempts to foster a positive relationship as the vehicle of change. Showing genuine empathy allows for the client to become more comfortable and begin to gain confidence in the relationship allowing them to reveal more information. Another useful factor in this approach is in regards to the ideal and actual self. This idea proposed that the actual self is how we experience our lives or self at that given moment while the ideal self represents the wishes or desires we have for who we want to be. Intuitively this seems applicable in therapy as most everyone has constructs of their present self while having a vision of who they want to become. When there are discrepancies between these constructs pathology emerges and the individual must accept through therapy that they are capable of working towards their ideal-self.
    With the strengths of this approach also come weaknesses, specifically in regards to deficiencies surrounding the direction of therapy and disregard for other theories. The direction of this therapy places too much emphasis on the client leading therapy through exploration of their experiences with the assistance of the therapist. This approach may be when client’s display high levels of self awareness and may not be applicable to those suffering from more severe mental illnesses. Another downfall of the phenomenological-humanistic approach was the disregard for previously established theories. Casting aside unconscious drives, learned behaviors, and traits allowed for therapists to focus on the client’s current expression of self. While focusing on the present has it’s merits, the work done by Freud and Skinner emphasize that there are other long lasting influences on our behavior that we acquired in our past or through reinforcement patterns. By shifting the focus completely to the present self, the humanistic approach falls short by not properly addressing some facets of the past.

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  10. Jacleen Charbonneau
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:07:55

    1. In the humanistic approach, there is much emphasis on the subjective experience of the client, his or her personal concept, and the individual’s self (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayuduk, 2008). Humanistic approaches also include existentialism, in which individuals are seen to have freedom in and responsibility for their behaviors (Mischel et al., 2008). Additionally, each individual is seen as a person of their own who has “integrated patterns,” according to Gordon Allport (Mischel et al., 2008).
    Additionally, Carl Rogers believed it was an innate human goal to engage in self-actualization, and each person values experiences that allow him or her to grow while experiences that do not accomplish this are overall avoided (Mischel et al., 2008). Rogers provides a unique take to such humanistic approach in his person-centered therapy, which involves a relationship with the client that mimics that of a close personal relationship of a friend (Rogers, 1995). According to Rogers (1995), this relationship first starts with genuineness from the therapist, which results in transparency, which will allow the person to feel trust and confidence in the relationship and therefore make positive changes as a result. Rogers (1995) also mentioned that this reality in the relationship will ultimately encourage the patient to seek reality in him or herself.
    Person centered therapy also involves making the client feel unconditionally accepted no matter what situation or behavior he or she is experiencing (Rogers, 1995). Such acceptance is also believed by Rogers to lead to healing, since the client will feel no danger or intimidation in the therapy environment and gain a sense of self worth.
    Rogers as a therapist sought to empathetically understand every experience and emotion the client went through, which he believed allowed him or her freedom to look further into his or her conscious and unconscious. According to Rogers (1995), once these elements are achieved in the relationship, change and growth is able to occur. The individual will eventually be able to move forward in maturity toward self-actualization.
    Rogers had some research, through his conduction of interviews, to back up this hypothesis that close human relationships, including the one developed in person-centered therapy, do help one develop a healthy, mature lifestyle that allows the patient to thrive toward self-actualization.

    2. Although the humanistic approach is focused on the client as an individual, there are many drawbacks to such approach. Focusing on the client’s subjective experience means there is a lack of scientific evidence for this approach.

    Regarding Rogers’ person-centered therapy, his approach may have many benefits to the client, which includes a warm relationship with the therapist and the confidence to move toward self-actualization. However, there are also many drawbacks and limitations of this approach. Firstly, although the variables mentioned by Rogers have been looked into and have some supporting research (therapist transparency, unconditional client acceptance, and empathy and understanding of the client), there is still lack of sufficient research in other variables that positive benefits will result from the person-centered therapy relationship (Rogers, 1995).

    Additionally, according to Rogers (1995), the therapist must pay close attention to how he or she acts during person-centered therapy. If the therapist find him or herself to be conditional when accepting a patient for who he or she is, there may be a delay in progress. Rogers also pointed out that a therapist must keep in mind how he or she is perceived by the patient. It is clear this could help in avoiding the risk of damaging the relationship with the client.

    Finally, Rogers (1995) recognized that there was no clear cut formula to developing a helping relationship nor was there a solid definition of a helping relationship, either.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

    Rogers, C. R. (1995). Some hypotheses regarding the facilitation of personal growth. In C. R. Rogers, On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (pp. 31-58). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

    Reply

  11. Taylor Gibson
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:20:54

    1) I believe that a strong point of humanistic theories is their focus on the client’s present situation. Unlike Freudian ideas which focus on childhood events, humanistic theories focus on addressing the feelings and conflicts that the client is experiencing in the moment. The client likely understands what area of their life they are struggling with and would like to change. This focus makes it easier for therapist and client to quickly identify areas of potential growth. Rather than digging around in the past, the client can identify what they what is causing stress and work immediately with the therapist to relieve that stress.

    The present is the primary focus of humanistic approaches but they do not completely discount the relevance of the past to making the person who they are, which provides added strength to these theories. There is a strong consensus that past experiences have a cumulative effect on an individual and any theory that attempted to discount those experiences entirely would damage their validity. Humanistic acknowledges the past while staying focused on the present by acknowledging that past experiences effect the individual in the present. However, they make no attempt, as Freudian theories do, of correcting the past and instead, focus on correcting current maladaptive behaviors and thoughts.

    2) The most glaring weakness of these theories is their inherent subjectivity. Attempting to understand a person as a distinct individual is a valid therapeutic goal. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to then use that information to conduct research,detect patterns within population, or generate treatment methods which can act as a guideline in future cases. Humanistic psychologists would tout the benefits of customizing their treatment plans to the client but to some extent, these theories require the therapist to reinvent the wheel with each individual client. It is difficult with these measures to objectively track the efficacy of treatment.

    I have mixed emotions about one of the central pillars of humanistic theory which states that people are free to choose and not victims to their traits or past experiences. I both agree with this view and believe that it simultaneously limits the humanistic approaches. I agree with this belief as I think it is important for clients to believe that they are able to make changes in their own life. I think it is very important for the healing process for a client to have an internal locus of control. If a client is lead to believe that they are a victim of forces they can’t control then that would encourage a sense of learned helplessness which is not productive in therapy. However, I do believe that biology, personality traits, and past experiences have a huge impact on a person and that they can place significant roadblocks in the way of a client making meaningful change. A victim mindset isn’t helpful for a client attempting to change their life; however, I don’t think that the therapist should lose sight of uncontrollable factors that can interfere with a client’s improvement.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., Ayduk O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

    Rogers, C. R. (1995). Some hypotheses regarding the facilitation of personal growth. In C. R. Rogers, On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (pp. 31-38). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

    Rogers, C. R. (1995). The characteristics of a helping relationship. In C. R. Rogers, On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (pp. 39-58). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

    Reply

    • Marisa Molinaro
      Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:28:05

      Taylor, I really liked your response to question 2. When doing the assignment I felt the same way but you explained it perfectly. It is very hard to assume that the therapist can take the client’s individual experiences and their specific subjectivity to their life and then create a “flawless” treatment plan that is going to work for them. And then to turn around and do the same thing with the next patient seems like an impossible task. I also agree that encouraging learned helplessness within the therapeutic relationship is a very slippery slope and it can lead the patient to feel that nothing is their fault and therefore they cannot change.

      Reply

    • Jacleen Charbonneau
      Oct 08, 2015 @ 11:34:57

      Taylor,

      I agree with your point that there is much subjectivity in humanistic theories. The theories appear to be limited in effectiveness because there is no scientific research or patterns, like you had mentioned, to base future treatment goals off of. Humanistic approaches are definitely weak in the area of objectivity, and I wonder if therapists who use such approaches in therapy find this to be as much of a barrier as it appears in textbooks. Without much focus on one’s past, and having the goal of developing a trusting relationship (especially in Roger’s approach), perhaps objectivity may not need to play a role . This may always cause some to question if humanistic theories are truly effective.

      Reply

      • Taylor Gibson
        Oct 09, 2015 @ 10:40:56

        Jacleen,

        In regards to your thought about how whether therapists run into the textbook problems with humanism. I’m sure that as humanistic clinicians practice they identify patterns between clients and are able to utilize treatment paths that have worked for other clients in the past. However, it seems like there would be very little overlap between similar clients of two different clinicians as there is scant opportunity for objective evaluation in humanistic theory. As with many careers, as therapists practice I’m sure they would come up with their own way of managing client recovery but it just doesn’t seems as if they field as a whole would have a cohesive plan of how to do that.

        Reply

    • Bridget Kesling
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 21:39:18

      I agree with you Taylor the idea of letting the client direct the therapy is really important. If a client is pointing you in a direction of conversation, they are for a purpose. Even if that purpose is to avoid another topic, you may find that this will act as a bridge to having the conversations with the client that they really need or want to have.

      Reply

  12. Marisa Molinaro
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 11:23:12

    1. I think that there are many useful parts of the humanistic approach. What I find the most useful is how this theory views the actual patient. Unlike Freud and Skinner, Rogers and Kelly believe that the individual knows him or herself the best and that each experience that they go through is subjective to his or herself (Mischel, Shoda, Ayuduk, 2008, p. 304). Carl Rogers’ Self Theory puts a lot of emphasis on the person as an organized whole, which means that the organism works as a whole and is working towards self-actualization as one thing not just some portions of it (Mischel et al., 2008, p. 304). He believed that it is also very important for the therapist to act a certain way as well. He spoke about the client-therapist relationship as a helping relationship. This means that one person is promoting the health and well-being of the other person (Rogers, 1995, p. 39-40). He believed that the therapist needed to be present in the moment during therapy and that there was a strong need for positive regard. It wasn’t until the client could feel completely safe and accepted that they would truly be open and honest with the therapist (Mischel et al., 2008, p. 308). George Kelly also viewed the patient as being subjective and the expert on their own experiences. His theory involved personal constructs. Mischel et al. (2008) explain these as the way that that particular individual interprets and understands the situations that happen to them (p. 313). It is easy for others to pass judgement or even the therapist to try and explain how a certain situation may have effected someone, but Kelly believed that in order for you to help them you needed to first completely understand how they viewed and understood it. I feel that this can be very helpful in therapy because the client is the one who needs to make the changes in their life to live a happier life. Therefore, if they are learning how to have better insight and understanding of their feelings and their choices then they will have a stronger chance at changing and restructuring the way they view the world

    2. Even though there are many attractive things about the humanistic approach, there are also many things that I feel are weaknesses. I think that Rogers was trying so hard to be the complete opposite of Freud that he forgot some things that are important in his theories. The main focus of his theories are the “here and now” and what is happening within the client at this very second (Mischel et al., 2008, p. 300). I believe that for some patients this may work but for others they may need to begin by understanding past experiences before they can truly understand the decisions they are making now. Rogers (1995) also goes into great detail about the exact way that the therapist needs to be in therapy and how they need to facilitate the session. I think that these steps will work great for clients who have amazing insight into their thoughts and behaviors but for clients who may be more unstable and not truly understand why they do the things they do this may not be so successful (p. 50-51). In regards to Kelly and his views, I personally do not like the aspect of his theory that explains that the people themselves are the scientists. I understand the meaning behind it because you want the client to be an active participant in his or her own treatment and the process. However, I feel that in some cases this may actually put more pressure on them and that it also may not be completely feasible with clients who are unstable and/or suffering from a severe disorder.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

    Rogers, C. R. (1995). Some hypotheses regarding the facilitation of personal growth. In C. R. Rogers, On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (pp. 31-38). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

    Rogers, C. R. (1995). The characteristics of a helping relationship. In C. R. Rogers, On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (pp. 39-58). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.

    Reply

  13. Jason Prior
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 12:52:29

    (1) There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory.
    In contrast to the psychodynamic and pure behavioral perspectives, the humanistic perspective sees clients as individuals who are in charge of their own futures, and not slaves to external stimuli or internal constructs. Therapy is seems to be present and future oriented, as it is designed to identify problems in the life of the client and to help client become who they want to be. Yes the therapist must account for and understand past experiences the client has had, but this is wholly in the interest of understanding the client in the present. The most useful aspect of the humanistic approach is the relationship between the client and therapist. The therapist must be empathetic, engaged, transparent, and unconditionally accepting of the client. This is not an easy task when considering what some clients are like. This is an important model for therapist behavior in other perspectives though. As for the client, they are the true driving force behind humanistic therapy. The client must be willing to engage in therapy as well, and so must have an idea of who they want to become and where they want to be at. Ideally the client will be able to do this regardless of “insight”, as self actualization is a product of the relationship between the client and the therapist. That being said, the client’s perspective on situations and experiences must be understood. Specifically, if a client is engaging in behavior that is detrimental, but does not see it as such, then the client must change their perspective before they will change the behavior.

    (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory.
    Invariably all theories have their downsides. Personally I see the lack of objectivity as a weakness. I understand the mindset of treating each client as an individual, but I also think that should mostly be applied to the therapeutic relationship. If there is too much subjectivity, such as interpreting the client’s experiences and feelings, then it is possible for the therapist to miss interpret what the client is saying. Additionally, I don’t like how the humanistic theory is so loose about therapy. Other perspectives have developed treatments based off of empirical data, but the humanistic approach is focused almost exclusively on the therapeutic relationship as a means of change. While the relationship is important, and there is some validity to the dodo bird theory, I believe that there are other techniques that have shown to be effective for treating clients.

    Reply

    • Salome Wilfred
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 16:47:51

      Jason,

      I really appreciate your point that a huge weakness is the lack of objectivity. I agree that every individual is different and should be approached accordingly, but too much subjectively has the potential of inhibiting the clients progress and development. Objectivity in the type of intervention for the problem they are presenting with is a huge facilitating factor for change and progress. Denying the client this objective intervention can potentially be a disservice to the client in the long run.

      Reply

  14. Salome Wilfred
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 13:15:27

    The Phenomenological- Humanistic approach was one of the first therapies that gave an individual a large amount of freedom and potential for self growth (Mischel, Shoda & Ayduk, 2008). Many of the previous therapies suggested that an individual had little to no control over who they were and were unaware of who they truly were because a majority of their actions were either unconscious or purely biological. The focus in this therapy is on the client and helping them realize that they are the world’s best expert on themselves. Therefore the interest was in helping the client truly understand how they perceive, think, interpret, and experience the world around them (Mischel et al., 2008). Ultimately, the client held the power and it was their choice to change, progress, and grow in the manner and direction they felt compelled and comfortable growing in. Phenomenological- Humanistic Approach reminds the clinician that change and progress is not the result of their work but the clients work. While, a clinician’s facilitation is helpful it is not the key aspect.

    A significant factor in Phenomenological- Humanistic therapy is the power of choice. The theory is primarily based off existentialism. Existentialism suggests that an individual is the builder of their own lives; such that choice is unavoidable, we freely set life goals, and an individual is accountable for their life choices (Mische et al., 2008). While this concept is ideal and has the potential to empower an individual it fails to acknowledge the role environmental factors play. Roger’s discusses how every human hopes and wants to achieve self actualization; and it is their choices that assist in reaching self actualization. It seems that this therapy suggests that people who do not reach self actualization results from their personal choices, which I do not think is true. According to Maslow’s hierarchy, an individual needs to progress through numerous stages before reaching self actualization (Mischel et al., 2008). These stages are greatly impacted by the individuals environment and while they have choices throughout the process the choices they are given can be influenced by their environment. Subsequently, while we do always have choice, said choices are not always a result of us but rather a result of external factors.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

    Reply

    • Taylor Gibson
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 11:38:54

      Salome,

      Maslow’s idea of wellness seems, from the way our text describes it, to be the achievement of self-actualization and I understand your thoughts on the role of environment. I don’t disagree that environment plays a huge role in whether or not a person reaches their full potential. Rogers says that it is a natural tendency for an organism to expand themselves and I would argue that it may not be so important that a person reaches self-actualization during their lifetime (although that would be ideal) but rather that they are striving towards it. I don’t think that Rogers or Maslow would consider not having reached self- actualization a problem so much as a person no longer moving towards that goal. Which is where choice comes in. An individual doesn’t always have control over what happens to them but I would argue that they do have a choice in how they think about it and/or how they react to it. And saying, “I can’t manage this own my own” or “I don’t know how to manage this” and receiving help (either social or therapeutic) is a perfectly legitimate move towards actualization. But where there is stagnation in the process, I believe there is an opportunity for intervention.

      Finally, following your logic through, I can understand how it is possible to come to the conclusion that it is the individual’s fault for not reaching their full potential and that thought process can certainly be damaging. As therapists, refusing to acknowledge the factors that can impede a person’s progression and simply assigning blame to the client wouldn’t be a particularly effective approach to building a working relationship. And any therapist who wishes to effect change should avoid putting their client on the defensive. So I agree with you that this idea has the potential to be damaging.

      Reply

    • Anissa Rader
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 20:49:44

      Salome, I like that you brought up how this therapy was one of the first to incorporate the concept of allowing the client to feel a sense of freedom during their sessions. By providing clients with a sense of freedom, they more than likely would feel more comfort and acceptance from the therapist and therefore would open up about more of their conflicts as well as be more open to try to change. I agree with most of what you stated in your post but wanted to add my own opinion similar to Taylor’s (as stated in her response to your post). Though self actualization was iportant for this type of therapy. I don’t think that the therapist would necessarily be angry if it was not accomplished as long as the client had not stopped trying to change. Like we discussed in our P&P class, most clients go through many different phases before being willing to and ready to finally make a change. Clients also tend to go back and forth before reaching this ready to change stage. So though self actualization is important in the Humanistic approach, it isn’t solely based on this, from what I understand.

      I have not worked directly in the field of therapy before like I know you have with DBT, so it’s very interesting to hear your thoughts about the weekly posts considering you have most likely experienced clients and abnormal behaviors much more closely. Reading your posts really keeps me thinking and allows me to reflect on my own understanding and perceptions and compare. So thank you!

      Reply

  15. Julia Sherman
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 14:00:55

    1) The phenomenological-humanistic perspective is, in many ways, the polar opposite of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, which gives it a number of strengths in therapy. Most importantly, this theory focuses in part on existentialism, which is essentially the philosophical theory that each individual exhibits free will over his or her behaviors (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk). This is a theory that both psychoanalysis and behaviorism absolutely did not adopt–psychoanalysts believed that behaviors stemmed from childhood experiences and innate desires, while behaviorists believed that behaviors stemmed from learning based on patterns of reward and punishment (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk). Both of these theories largely take not only the control out of the hands of the patient, but also the responsibility. Under the theory of existentialism, patients are treated as though they have complete control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can be essential in therapy for helping patients understand that they are in part responsible for making improvements in their own mental health. Other theories that do not adopt this belief can often make patients feel helpless in improving their mental state.

    Maslow’s theory of self-actualization also demonstrates an important factor in the phenomenological-humanistic approach. While other psychological theories focus extensively on abnormal behaviors and the nature of mental disorder, the phenomenological-humanistic approach tries to focus instead on the more positive, strength-based aspects of personality. This helps provide a goal for patients to strive for, rather than having patients focus too much on the negative events in their past that lead to current behaviors (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk).

    2) One weakness that I see in the phenomenological-humanistic psychological approach is the concept of unconditional positive regard that Carl Rogers advocated (Rogers, 1995). Although I can see the appeal of this approach, it may not always be appropriate in therapy. Patients often seek therapy to gain insight into whether or not their behaviors towards others are acceptable. By offering unconditional positive regard, the therapist is communicating to the patient that any behaviors that the patient describes are acceptable and warranted, which would certainly not always be the case. In this way, unconditional positive regard may actually slow down progress in therapy for certain patients. In many cases, it would be more beneficial to maintain empathy but to also help patients see their behaviors from the perspective of others so that they may come to a true understanding of why they should or should not attempt to modify their behaviors.

    The phenomenological-humanistic theory is also quite unscientific in its approach, which in some contexts could be a weakness. For instance, this theory would be difficult to apply to empirical research for several reasons–creating operational definitions and gauging individuals’ true perceptions, for example, would be challenging, especially compared to behaviorism. Research has become an increasingly important factor in the development of psychological measurement and treatment, and a theory as unscientific as the phenomenological-humanistic approach is more likely to lack the evidence required to substantiate it.

    Reply

    • Mark Joyce
      Oct 08, 2015 @ 22:42:56

      Julia, you bring up a great point about how when unconditional positive regard may be inappropriate.Unconditional positive regard seems like a double edged sword to me, having two sides. Validating feelings and behaviors certainly has its benefits, but as you said there could be undesired reinforcements. If a patient’s maladaptive behaviors are normalized by the therapist there is obviously the opportunity for growth, but also there is a chance they embrace the improper message and continue the behavior. I also feel as though displaying unconditional positive regard would be exhausting in some extreme cases. Working with murderers, rapists, or psychopaths and attempting to display genuine unconditional positive regard while listening to the tellings of a disturbed individual. Also, these cases are examples of where humanistic approach falls short, in treating severely disturbed individuals. It may also be possible that clients may have difficulty in processing unconditional positive regard or empathy which can lead to a disruption in therapy.

      Reply

      • Julia Sherman
        Oct 09, 2015 @ 13:41:17

        You make a good point that unconditional positive regard could also be exhausting in the more extreme cases. I imagine burn-out is extreme for any therapist working with murderers, rapists, etc., but it must be more so for those who adhere to Roger’s style of therapy. Then again, I am not sure if displaying disapproval toward the actions of these patients would do much to influence a change in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors anyways, considering the lack of empathy that they have already demonstrated. Such patients likely require psychological interventions far beyond the scope of what we have covered thus far in class.

        Reply

  16. brian faust
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 15:53:30

    1) The humanistic approach is certainly one of the more popular therapeutic methods that is utilized today. One of my favorite aspects of the humanistic approach is Carl Roger’s “Self Theory”. Roger’s theory of the self allows for the optimal growth and fulfillment of a human being (Mischel et al., 2008). Rogers believes that “the self” and the “self concept” are interchangeable. This “self” was described as an organized and consistent whole (Mischel et al., 2008). It consists of perceptions about one’s relationships to others, to their environment and all the values that they consist off (Mischel et al., 2008). What I find so interesting about Roger’s humanistic approach regarding the self, is that it is almost as if the “self” is being described as a separate entity. If one was struggling psychologically, they feel as if there is something fundamentally wrong with them. But you are not your thoughts. By giving the “self” a separate identity, it is easier to come to the conclusion that psychological disorders are not your fault. People often have the unfair stigma that mental illness makes them “crazy”. I believe that with Roger’s emphasis on unconditional positive regard, it is easier for individuals to open themselves up to therapy.

    2) The humanistic approach is not without it’s share of weakness’s. While I do think that unconditional positive regards can have its strengths (as alluded too above), I do not believe that it should always be utilized. Unconditional positive regard is when anything you do or say is ubiquitously accepted by the therapist. Naturally, I think that by never criticizing people’s actions, you open yourself up to a world of danger. I believe it gives the client a feeling of superiority. That nothing they do is wrong, nothing they do is criticized. While accepting somebody for who the are is good, when placing no conditions on this acceptance, it can be dangerous. You are essentially caring for a client as a “separate entity” while their feelings and self are allowed to run amok.

    Reply

  17. Colleen Popores-LaFleur
    Oct 07, 2015 @ 22:13:36

    (1) The humanistic approach has many attributes that are appealing to therapists today. For example, Rogers’s perspective that an individual’s experience is unique to them and that one cannot completely understand another person’s world reminds us that although we can make empirical judgments about a person, we will never truly know their internal experiences. This emphasizes the importance of empathy for a client, and the fact that people may react differently to similar situations.

    A key approach in the humanistic theory is client-centered therapy. This method relies on the ability of the therapist to make the client feel accepted and comfortable. Some of this is done with positive regard, as well as genuineness and letting the client come to conclusions on their own without being persuaded by the views of the therapist. Although many therapeutic methods use approaches which consist of giving information or attempting to change thoughts or behaviors in various ways, it is important to remember that the client is their own person. Despite our ability to apply various therapeutic methods to treatment, such as psychoeducation about a person’s mental illness or exposure therapy for anxiety, there is something to be said about clients being able to express themselves freely and develop a supportive relationship with their therapist as well.

    The humanistic theory also takes a step away from psychodynamic theory by focusing more on the present than primal unconscious motives. Although this theory does not rely as heavily on scientific research as others, it benefits from less focus on psychosexual theories and labeling of clients. At times, it can be daunting or have negative impact on a person to have a diagnostic label. While this is often necessary in mental health treatment, focusing on a diagnosis rather than the individual could be problematic for some clients.

    (2) Some weaknesses of the humanistic theory involve the reliance on the client to determine the outcome of their therapeutic experience. Although working with high functioning adults with good insight may work well with this model, it does not utilize effective methods as well as other types of therapy. Working with a client who needs more support or who would benefit from an approach that is known to be effective means being able to provide the proper care. If a client has little insight it may be more difficult to create change in their behaviors by using the humanistic approach.

    The humanistic approach believed that a client determines their own future and that it is not important to look into their past in order to create change. It can sometimes fail to address the cause of issues and behaviors.For example, the behavioral approach uses functional analysis, which enables clinicians and researchers to determine key stimuli that a client is responding to in order to modify their behavior. This exemplifies the use of scientific research, while still looking into the causes of a problem. This does not mean that we benefit more from digging into a person’s childhood, but that completely ignoring a person’s past or other factors is ignoring important information.

    Reply

    • Bridget Kesling
      Oct 09, 2015 @ 21:45:18

      Colleen, I think you make a very valid point about the importance of realizing we will not know fully another persons experience and how important that is for us to remember. Quite often when we are trying to normalize behavior we as people are quick to compare situations with either our own or someone we know, but sometimes that can come off as invalidating to our client even if we don’t mean it to. So keeping that in mind when we are conversing with our clients and really being in tune with their reactions is important.

      Reply

  18. Gabriel Lamptey
    Oct 08, 2015 @ 00:12:48

    (1) There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory.  (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory.

    1. In reading the various components/parts/mechanisms of the humanistic approach, what appeals most to me is the “client-centered” approach to treatment. In the client centered approach an individual is viewed as good and with the potential to self actualize if provided with the right environment and needed empathy and warmth. The warm and unconditionally accepting attitude or approach of the therapist supports a client to understand, and examine the inconsistences with their self. Rogers explained this further by stating that once an empathic and warm conditions in therapy is provided, the individual will become a unified fashion, what he organismically is, and this seems to be the essence of therapy (Rogers, 1955, p.269). The client-centered approach focuses on improving the client-therapist/clinician relationship. One way to improve the therapeutic relationship is an unconditional acceptance of the client as intrinsically good and capable of developing his or herself. The clinician’s role is to be non-directive i.e. allowing the client to direct the session while the clinician solely clarifies the expressions and feelings of the client. By far, almost every therapist will side with the fact that building a good therapeutic relationship does have a positive impact on the progress of treatment. Client centered approach embraces genuineness, unconditional positive regard for clients and empathy as main elements that supports or thrives effective treatment.

    2. One of the criticisms of the humanistic approach is that it places the therapist or clinician in a passive role who hides behind professionalism and holds back. Also it cannot be proven empirically that client-leading therapy can always be effective in treating disorders which could be considered high risk. Another potential weakness of the humanistic approach is that it could be time consuming in supporting client address struggles that the client leads therapy, as compared to CBT which focuses on addressing clients struggles within a timely fashion, thereby relieving clients off their immediate distress.

    Rogers, C.R. (1955) Persons or science? A philosophical question. American Psychologist. 10, 267-278

    Reply

    • Jacleen Charbonneau
      Oct 08, 2015 @ 11:43:13

      Gabriel,

      I agree with your point that humanistic theories may not be effective for those that are at high-risk. The therapeutic process that Rogers describes seems to be very surface-level, as if digging deeply into the client’s mind is not a goal. The relationship between client and therapist in humanistic approaches are not very convincing. I feel it would need to take a strong, well-established relationship for a client to feel motivated enough to make positive life changes, even for those who are not at high risk. This may take a long time, and like you had mentioned, CBT may be a better option for addressing problems more quickly and efficiently.

      Reply

      • Gabriel Lamptey
        Oct 08, 2015 @ 19:09:52

        Jaclyn,

        In addressing client’s anxiety for instance, the humanistic approach of empathy and believing in the clients ability or capability to help themselves through self reflections is good but not enough a challenge to encourage a client take steps toward desensitizing in relation to the source of anxiety. The clinician should not only be a good listener but also should be able to guide a client through different steps in addressing their anxiety struggles or phobia.

        Reply

  19. Bridget Kesling
    Oct 09, 2015 @ 21:35:08

    There are three readings due this week – Text Ch. 12 and two Rogers (1995) chapters. Address the following two discussion points: (1) There are many parts/components/mechanisms of the humanistic approach that are attractive to therapists. Based upon the readings, identify and explain what you find the most useful to take away from this theory.
    When reading these articles and the book the idea that I found most attractive to take with me is the idea of an individual’s motivation to change. I personally find this a very important idea because as therapist we are serving as tools for individuals to use to better themselves. With that a therapist is really only able to encourage growth and provide a safe space for growth. The motivation and work of growing really has to come from the individual themselves and so the idea that the individual will find the ability to use the relationship as a foundation for which to grow from is really comforting. Also there is definite validity that a person will struggle to grow in an environment where their basic needs of safety and health are not being met first. So providing an environment where they feel they are emotionally and physically safe is a idea all therapist really should keep in the forfront.
    (2) Of course, there are some criticisms of the humanistic approach. Share your thoughts on a few potential weaknesses of this theory. Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 10/7. Have your two replies no later than 10/9. *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply. This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.
    When reading the chapter on personal growth, It talked about how they are able to mek broady hypothesis of human relationship that can be applied to all human relationships. The problem with this is a lot of the theories presented are based upon the idea of human attachment and connection. There are instances in which some humans lack the ability for empathy and are limited on their abilities for connect. To universalize this therapeutic model and apply it to “all human relationships” is a big statement which would be hard to validate. Also a lot of these methods are really hard to measure their effectiveness and so it would be hard to prove this statement to be true. It is also hard to measure success with this model of therapy.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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