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Title: The%20Psychology%20of%20the%20Person%20Chapter%2011%20Humanistic%20Approach

The Psychology of the Person Chapter 11
Humanistic Approach
  • Naomi Wagner, Ph.D
  • Lecture Outlines
  • Based on Burger, 8th edition

The Third Force
  • The Humanistic approach has emerged in the
    late 1960s, primarily as a reaction to the two
    major views of humanity popular at that time
  • The Freudian perspective and its emphasis on
    unconscious sexual and aggressive instincts
  • The behavioral perspective, and its emphasis on
    the mechanical nature of responses to stimuli in
    the environment. The humanistic perspective,
    thus, as been called the third force.

Deterministic Perspective of Human Nature
  • The role of the unconscious is a hypothetical
    concept that cannot be empirically validated
  • The manipulation of human beings on the basis of
    classical and operant conditioning was an ideas
    based on studies of rats that learned to run in
    a maze to find food.
  • The food was the reward that affected the

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Roots of the Humanistic Approach 1. Existential
  • Existential philosophy addresses many of the
    questions that later became the cornerstone of
    the Humanistic approach, such as, the meaning of
    our existence, the role of free will, and the
    uniqueness of each individual.
  • The existentialists, such as Rollo May, focused
    on existential anxiety- the feeling of dread
    associated with the realization that there is no
    meaning to ones life.

Existential Anxiety- What is there to life?
2. The clinical experiences of Carl Rogers and
Abraham Maslow.
  • The founders of the Humanistic Approach, Carl
    Rogers and Abraham Maslow, were both therapists
  • At that time, the Freudian model of therapy was
    popular, viewing the therapist as an expert who
    tells the client what is the problem
  • Rogers maintained that it was only the client
    that is responsible for the therapeutic direction
  • The therapist can create conditions for

The Freudian Model of Psychotherapy
  • The therapist as the know- al expert

Viktor Frankl
  • All of Frankls family died in the Nazi
    concentration camp
  • Frankl survived, and struggled to search for
    meaning in the face of horrible adversity
  • He believed the examining the finiteness of our
    existence and inevitable mortality adds meaning
    to life, as we ask ourselves- Why do we exist?
    What do we want from life?

What is the best way to spend the time that is
  • Frankl concludes that the meaning of life is
    found in every moment of living life never
    ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and
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From the Ashes to Hope
Viktor Frankl Conclusion
  • Love is the highest and ultimate goal to which
    man can aspire
  • The Salvation of man is in love and through love
  • A man who has nothing left in this world still
    may know bliss, if only for a brief moment in the
    contemplation of the beloved
  • Frankl's meaning in life is to help others find

  • Frankls ideas have been translated into the
    Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Key Elements of the Humanistic Approach
  • The Humanistic Perspective has not presented a
    comprehensive framework, but rather a collection
    of major principles that can be seen as directive
    to life.

Key Elements of the Humanistic Perspective
  • Emphasis on personal responsibility (You dont
    have to do your homework, you have chosen to do
    so). You are not a victim of circumstances!

Key Elements (cont-d)
  • Emphasis on functioning in the here and now Do
    not be a captive of your past!

Key Elements (cont-d)
  • Acknowledging the phenomenology of the
    individual- - the fact that it is only the client
    (in therapy) that can make decision for

Key Elements (cont-d)
  • Emphasis on personal growthRogers called this
    becoming a fully functioning, while Maslow
    referred to this idea as self-actualization.

Self-Actualization- What is it?
  • There is more to life than the absence of
  • The Humanistic perspective maintain that we all
    have a drive toward self-actualization
  • To become that best we can become, in the context
    of our life (you do not have to receive the Nobel

Carl Rogers and Person-Centered Therapy
  • The role of the therapist is to create an
    atmosphere of unconditional positive regard to
    enable the clients self-exploration and becoming
    fully functioning.
  • Paraphrasing and reflection of feelings were
    methods to facilitate self-exploration
  • Rogers described the fully- functioning person
    as an ideal for healthy personality.
  • Rogers saw anxiety as resulting from our
    inability to incorporate information that is
    inconsistent with our self-image

Rogers (cont-d)
  • Note his emphasis on social-environmental causes
    of emotional maladjustment (in contrast to the
    biological approach), when he sees parental
    conditional acceptance.
  • The Rogerian therapist would say to a client I
    do not like what you did, but I still respect you
    as a human being.

Abraham Maslow
  • Abraham Maslow was interested in exploring the
    sources of happy, healthy personality.
  • His approach was optimistic, regarding human
    beings as free-willed individuals, and not as
    captive by unconscious drives
  • His contribution is in the hierarchy of needs,
    and in the study of the psychologically-healthy

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
  • Maslow distinguished between D (deficiency) needs
    and B (being) needs.
  • Physiological needs
  • Safety needs
  • Love and Belongingness needs
  • Esteem needs (you value yourself, and others also
    value you)
  • Self-Actualization needs

Hierarchy of Needs
Misconceptions about Maslow Hierarchy
  • You do not have to fulfill all the needs in one
    level to climb to the next level
  • Some people who starve for their loved one, or
    for their life work
  • Te needs in each level are never fully satisfied
  • There are cultural differences in the ways the
    needs are regarded and are fulfilled

The psychologically-Healthy People
  • Maslows study of the psychologically- healthy
    people was Not empirically-based
  • He examined his friends, whom he judged to be
    psychologically healthy, as well as historical
  • His analysis was holistic and subjective
  • Yet, it was relevant that he called attention to
    the healthy aspects of human nature

Attributes of the Psychologically-Healthy people
  • Sense of humor
  • Creativity- not in artistic talent, but in being
    able to perform mundane tasks in a non-routine
  • Open to new experiences
  • Having peak experiences- which involve the
    transcendence of time and place.

The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Positive
  • The legacy of the Humanistic Approach is in the
    emergence of the new branch of psychology,
    Positive Psychology
  • This branch focuses of human virtues, strengths,
    resilience, and coping with adversity
  • An important topic is the pursuit of happiness-
    What is happiness?

The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  • In searching for the meaning of happiness,
    Csikszentmihlyi introduced the concept of flow,
    quite similar to Maslows Peak Experience
  • It involves being totally absorbed in an activity
    that requires your full attention and utilizes
    your skills to the utmost
  • You have a feeling you are in a state of flow
  • There are 8 components of the flow (see

  • Rogers applied his ideas into a system of therapy
    that emphasizes the creation of the right
    conditions to allow the client to accept
    him/herself, and to achieve personal growth.
    Extending to the client unconditional positive
    regard facilitates this goal.
  • Maslows hierarchy of needs has been applied into
    understanding job satisfaction and vocational

Current Status
  • Though the Humanistic Approach was quite popular
    when it first came out, and though it introduced
    therapeutic strategies that are still applied
    today, its popularity had waned.
  • The positive tone of the approach, that is seen
    as the forerunner of Positive Psychology, is
    certainly a plus.

Limitations of the Humanistic Approach
  • Many of the concepts do not lend themselves for
    operational definitions and for scientific study.
  • A great deal of the studies conducted by Maslow
    and Rogers to support their ideas were based on
    their own subjective impressions and intuition.
  • The concept of free will has been challenged.

  • Some researchers questioned the effectiveness of
    the Rogerian therapy (how do you measure success
    in therapy?). It may be more appropriate for
    people in life transitions than for deep-seated
    psychological disorders
  • The appropriateness of relying on the client to
    make accurate appraisals of themselves has been
  • The naïve assumptions about the goodness of