Knowing this, Strenger points out that therapists need to consider "who can work with whom," because the therapeutic outcome may be greatly affected by the "chemistry" between therapist and client. The egalitarian principle in the therapeutic relationship gets played out further in qualitative studies (such as Gallegos, 2005 and Cohen, 2005) in which client experiences in the mental health system and subjective accounts of symptom relief from psychotherapy are treated as credible data, from which therapists can learn.
Humanistic psychology developed in protest against the reductionism of psychoanalysis and behaviorism which saw the human being as a bunch of unconscious impulses or reactors to stimuli. The new paradigm sought to treat the "whole person" and found phenomenological / qualitative approaches better suited to this richer purpose. Maslow, for example, wanted to gain information based on personal, subjective experiences and not on abstract systems. But as Giorgi (2005) points out, the natural science/quantitative influence is still here. He admits that humanistic psychology has been granted a presence in psychology, but shows it is still in the minority. Of the 150,000 APA members, only 610 are members of Division 32, or less than 1/2 of 1%. The bulk of the field of psychology still honors the scientific approach more than the humanistic approach. Humanism is not as strong as psychoanalysis or behaviorism in universities and not as well represented as cognitive psychology. He states "We must discover or invent new ways of being scientific" (p. 214).
While humanistic psychology has done a lot to restore the idea of a whole human person, it has been less successful articulating "how to study personhood psychologically in rigorous ways" (p. 214). To do this, he points out the need to develop non-reductionist philosophies of science and new and original methods.
Parallel to individual treatment, humanistic psychology has played a significant role in the development of therapeutic communities (TCs) for addicts with substance abuse problems (Soyez, 2005). Connected to Synanon, these communities traditionally used client-centered therapies and were strongly influenced by Maslow's ideas. For example, Synanon's first goal in the treatment of addicts was to change the client from a "dope fiend" to a "self-developing person" aware of his or her own potential (p. 306). TCs accomplish this through the use of a peer community and regular encounter groups. Recently, the family therapy approach has been incorporated based on existential theories of Buber. Previously, the family of origin was not considered important to the treatment of addicts; in fact, the family was blamed for the problem. Unconditional love of substance-abusing children was thought to encourage them and keep them from changing their behavior. Thus, the first therapeutic communities tended to separate addicts from their families. The "new TC" has introduced family systems therapy with renewed attention to the humanistic roots of the TC and a focus on support, unification, and respect.
Family therapy broke away from psychiatry in the 1950s. Now, marriage and family therapists build on client strengths rather than assume clients are "sick." One of the assumptions now is that patterns of behavior are passed from one generation to another and when one member of the family suffers, everyone in the family is affected. Some contemporary approaches to family therapy include Narrative Therapy in which stories of life events are examined for the belief systems they reflect, Brief Solution Therapy which exposes maladaptive solutions that actually prolong problems, and Post Milan Systemic Therapy which examines transactional patterns in a family system (More About Family Therapy web site).
Unlike traditional family therapy, feminist family therapy does not assume equality between marriage partners but recognizes that socialization has been different. While men are socialized to be task-oriented, women are socialized to be care-givers.
Masculinity is defined through separation and independence while femininity is defined through attachment and connection. In feminist therapy, sometimes preferred by gay and lesbian couples, the "gender lens" is frequently applied (Colucci-Coritt, 1999).
Humanist psychologists are part of the addiction recovery movement, a national network which seeks to reduce the negative impact of alcohol and drug addiction on families and the community. White (2000) describes the New Recovery Movement: "The central message of this new movement is not that 'alcoholism is a disease' or that 'treatment works' but rather that permanent recovery from alcohol and other drug-related problems is not only possible but a reality in the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals and families" (p. 7).
HopeNetworks, for example, one participator in the movement, shares research findings and information, works to educate the public, and aims to achieve Substance Abuse Parity with insurance companies.
The Human Potential Movement, centered at The Esalen Institute, is an application aimed at corporations, government, small businesses, and the educational establishment. It lies somewhere between humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology with a strong focus on individual growth and development (Wikipedia). In motivational seminars employees learn they have unlimited or infinite potential. They learn to control negative thoughts and to reprogram the subconscious through the use of daily affirmations, positive thinking, and self-talk. Consciousness altering techniques are taught such as meditation, visualization, guided imagery, and autosuggestion. Each person creates his or her own reality (Human Potential Movement web site). Under the broader umbrella of the New Age movement, an underlying belief is that by unleashing human potential, humans beings will be happier, more creative, and less aggressive, more likely to help and support each other -- a new consciousness will develop that will eventually change society and the world into a more peaceful place.
The Human Potential movement is also present in education. For example, empathic listening is taught in communication classes, and many teachers have adopted experiential learning techniques for their classrooms. Freshman communication classes at colleges and universities, for example, often make extensive use of experiential methods. Activities are designed for student interactions which promote active learning through participation and discussion. The underlying philosophy is that for learning to be meaningful, it has to be self-initiated. Students need to reach out and actively pursue learning through experiences -- as opposed to the old idea of "the student as an empty vessel" who passively listened to a lecture and "filled up" with knowledge (Holland, 2004). Experiential learning facilitates personal growth, allows for differences in learning ability, and begins where the learner actually is (Nunan, 1999). The student moves naturally from the old to the new by making sense of a new experience. Learning takes place during the sense-making phase.
Humanist psychologists are also active in industry and management in the field of Organizational Development. OD helps people and organizations develop practices that lead to outcomes satisfactory to both the organization and to individual workers. The focus is on organizational goals, making the organization a good place to work (applying values), and finding the direction in which the world is going. An internet ad for OD ends by saying, "OD leads you into the future, enables you to keep up or surpass your competitors, spots and evaluates the trends for you, and makes you a twenty-first century organization" (Organizational Development web site). Organizational Transformation specialists work with organizations and use methods of psychosynthesis to achieve more organizational effectiveness through an "evolution of consciousness." It is believed that in each person there is "a source of genius or inner wisdom which can be discovered, tapped, and utilized to achieve both personal and organizational transformations" (Brown, 1986).
A recent national movement in which humanist psychologists were involved is the self-esteem movement. One of the leaders is California senator John Vasconcellos, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and champion of "person-centered politics." He states that "society's primary commitment must be to encourage the development of healthy, self-realizing, responsible human beings...and that self-esteem is at the heart of our capacity to lead lives of community, responsibility, productivity and satisfaction" (Exploration of Learning and Self-Esteem web site).
Likewise, the hospice movement is strongly influenced by humanistic psychology. A relative newcomer to the health care industry, hospice seeks to help patients in the last days, weeks, or months of their lives by addressing and discussing the five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance which dying people experience. Clients are encouraged to "make sense" of their lives through talking about them and telling the stories that comprise them Today there are more than 3,200 hospices in the country. Some are part of hospitals, others are independent. Humanist psychologists work in most of them.
The Holistic Health Movement has gained much ground in the past ten years with a surge of public interest in alternative medicine. Some of the alternative therapies being practiced are: Acupuncture, Biofeedback, massage and body-work therapies, Functional Integration, Zone therapy, Reflexology, Rolfing, meditation, imagery, and visualization (The Watchman Expositor web site). The movement rests on the concept of holism, that is, understanding the whole person who has an illness, rather than the illness as though it were independent from the person. Prevention, life-style, stress-reduction, and self-awareness is emphasized. Health is not simply the absence of disease, but seen "as…