What Is The Humanistic Perspective? Psychology And Therapeutic Applications

Updated March 11, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner

The humanistic perspective ultimately boils down to a psychological outlook which focuses on empathy and the importance of goodness within the conduct of human beings. From a purely philosophical level, the humanistic perspective places great value on equality and human rights. In psychology and during therapeutic applications, the humanistic perspective helps people improve their self-image by focusing on positive, valuable aspects of being human.

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A Closer Look At The Humanistic Perspective

To comprehend the humanistic perspective and all that it stands for, it's important to have a thorough grasp on prevalent themes within this particular psychological outlook. Only by understanding the various themes in their entirety can the humanistic perspective be fully comprehended.

Positive Aspects of Humanity

The positive aspects of humanity are especially dominant throughout the humanistic perspective. In essence, a person who is going through a tough time and working with a humanistic-themed specialist will be encouraged to focus on certain upbeat, hopeful aspects of life. For instance, if a patient feels as though their life is lacking meaning or purpose, then their therapy will work with them to determine what's missing. This could be a relationship, a recreational interest or something else. The general idea, however, is to find the solution which will generate personal fulfillment and meaning for the patient.

Innate Human Potential

An individual's innate potential as a human being is another significant theme within the humanistic perspective. Hardships, suffering and other plights which people face are viewed as manifestations of one deviating from the path of their natural potential in life. To remedy this issue, patients who undergo humanistic therapy are largely encouraged to partake in various ventures that allow them to grow as human beings. In many regards, this closely relates to the theme of positive humanity.

Concepts Birthed By The Humanistic Perspective

Believe it or not, there are a series of now standard themes and concepts in a society which were birthed by the humanistic perspective. Many of the themes above have contributed to the advancement of psychotherapy approaches and overall comprehension of human behavior.

Free will, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and self-concept are some of the concepts which are understood because of the humanistic perspective. Free will pertains to the human ability to make choices and decisions on one's own accord. In psychology, there are countless studies devoted to understanding the underlying factors which motivate people to make various choices.

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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs also came about as a result of the humanistic perspective. Put; this particular concept maintains that each person has a series of needs in life. The most basic needs exist at the lower end of the hierarchy and serve as the most important. As the hierarchy increases, the needs become more psychological and dependent upon healthy interactions with society. The essentials listed on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Self-concept pertains to how each person views themselves, their actions, and their abilities. The quality of one's self-concept will have a very significant impact on their lives and the decisions they make. An individual who suffers from a poor self-concept is far likelier to make destructive decisions than someone who enjoys a positive self-concept and values who they are.

Humanistic Perspective In Therapy

Whether people realize it or not, the humanistic perspective is very much alive and applied throughout various types of therapy. Patients who undergo this form of treatment are encouraged to focus on their strengths and the ways their strengths can improve their life. Furthermore, humanistic therapists have the responsibility of working with patients in a manner where they do not feel judged. It's important to remember that wellness, personal strengths and the good parts of each person are critical aspects of the humanistic perspective, especially in therapy.

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Criticism Of The Humanistic Perspective

Like all things in life, the humanistic perspective has attracted its share of criticism. Despite the benefits and how this particular outlook has contributed to psychology and therapy, there are still certain detractors. One of the most common criticisms against the humanistic perspective asserts that it fails to explain the dark side of humanity.

Unfortunately, there are some bad people in this world. Some people commit heinous crimes and unspeakable acts. For all the good that the humanistic perspective has done, it doesn't provide an in-depth analysis of the psychology behind psychopaths, sociopaths and others who engage in various vile acts. Emphasizing and bettering the good sides and strengths of human beings is important, but the ability to understand the reasoning behind the darker side of humanity is equally as critical. Thankfully, there are other forms of psychological studies and outlooks which cover this matter.

Additional criticisms of the humanistic perspective have stated that this psychological outlook ultimately fails to address the reasons behind various personality traits, strengths and underlying contributors to the human psyche. In a nutshell, critics view the humanistic perspective as nothing more than a fancy description of already existing abilities within individuals.

Applying The Humanistic Perspective In Everyday Life

While the humanistic perspective may not be flawless, its merits are undeniable and can certainly be applied in everyday life. No matter what you may be faced with or how challenging something may seem, there is always a bright side. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and a way for you to use your strengths to come out on the other side.

Life has a way of throwing hurdles at us during the most inopportune times. When this happens, it can be difficult to apply the humanistic perspective and remember all the great things we have going for ourselves. This is where having a strong and reliable support system comes into play.

Believe it or not, human beings were not meant to be alone. When you're going through it and having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, this is when having positive people in your inner circle matters the most. Applying the humanistic perspective becomes much less of a challenge when you have amazing people to remind you of your abilities and all which you are capable of.

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If you're having trouble with applying the humanistic perspective, then this could be indicative of a lifestyle change. You might be in a toxic environment or in situations which constantly harm your ability to see the positive traits of yourself. Although making certain lifestyle changes may be challenging, especially in the beginning, it's always better than remaining in situations which are not conducive to your growth as an individual. In the long run, you will thank yourself for making the changes which simplify the application of the humanistic perspective.

In Closing

If you are struggling in life or going through a tough time, it's important for you to understand that you are not alone. Although it may not seem like it, going through hard times and making it through to the other side is what allows us to grow and becomes stronger individuals. If life were always easy and smooth-sailing, nobody would grow or gain certain knowledge which only comes with life experience.

The good news about challenges in life is that you don't have to go through them on your own. Sometimes people are led to believe that working with a professional is a sign of weakness or an indicator that they can't handle their issues in life. Others may hesitate with opening up to someone who they don't personally know, regardless of what their professional background may be.

It's important to understand that psychologists, counselors, therapists and other mental health specialists are here to help you. There is no judgment, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down with a professional for any reason.

Here at BetterHelp, we have an amazing team of therapists who would be thrilled to work with you. No matter who you are, where you come from or what your story is, if you are going through a tough time, you deserve to be helped. You should never feel as though you are on your own and without anyone to turn to.

When it's all said and done, help will always be available to those who are receptive and willing to accept it. You can get started with BetterHelp at any time simply by clicking here.


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