Humanism Versus Existentialism: Modern Psychological Theories Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Psychology Type: Essay Paper: #86346949 Related Topics: Psychodynamic Theories, Person Centered Therapy, Carl Rogers, Unconditional Love

Excerpt from Essay :

Humanistic and Exestential Therapyies Humanistic Existential Theories

Strengths and limitations of humanistic and existential theories

Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, there was an increasing emphasis on new theories of the human personality and on ways of treating psychological disorders that offered alternatives to conventional psychodynamic, Freudian theory and the deterministic behaviorism of Skinner. Both humanistic and existential theories offered an alternative perspective. "They are united by an emphasis on understanding human experience and a focus on the client rather than the symptom. Psychological problems (including substance abuse disorders) are viewed as the result of inhibited ability to make authentic, meaningful, and self-directed choices about how to live" (Brief interventions, 1999). In humanistic and existentialist thought, there is a unity of philosophical speculation about how to enable the client to live a meaningful life.

Humanistic theories of psychology stress the fundamentally 'good' nature of all human beings. All human beings strive for a state of conscious self-actualization although sometimes this quest may be thwarted. It is the therapist's job to support this innate impulse. Developed in response to the very negative view of the human character espoused by psychodynamic and behaviorist theories, the founder of humanistic theory Carl Rogers instead stressed the need for every human being's unconditional positive regard and acceptance. "Through a process Rogers called person-centered therapy, the therapist seeks to provide empathy, openness, and unconditional positive regard…Rogers called his technique non-directive therapy, based on the concept that the therapist is simply a 'mirror' who reflects the individual's thoughts and feelings" which the client can critically view from a distance ("The humanistic approach," 2014). Humanism stresses that


It "holds a hopeful, constructive view of human beings and of their substantial capacity to be self-determining. It is guided by a conviction that intentionality and ethical values are strong psychological forces, among the basic determinants of human behavior" ("The humanistic view of human behavior," 2014). The therapist creates a positive environment to support the journey of the client and where the client wishes to go. According to humanism, all human beings have choices, even though sometimes they are incapable of perceiving this fact. Humanism's conviction in the ability of human beings to choose their future "leads to an effort to enhance such distinctly human qualities as choice, creativity, the interaction of the body, mind and spirit, and the capacity to become more aware, free, responsible, life-affirming and trustworthy" ("The humanistic view of human behavior," 2014). The therapist enables the patient to become more aware of the patient's innate possibilities but does not direct the client's change in a specific way, only in a positive way.

The humanistic therapist is acutely aware of his or her own biases and does not view him or herself as an objective observer of others. This is a notable contrast with Freudianism in which the patient free-associates his or her ideas and the therapist explains the rationale for the individual's behavior. "Humanists like Rogers argue that the meaning of behavior is essentially personal and subjective; they further argue that accepting this idea is not unscientific, because ultimately all individuals are subjective: what makes science reliable is not that scientists are purely objective, but that the nature…

Sources Used in Documents:


Brief interventions and brief therapies for substance abuse. (1999). Treatment Improvement

Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from:

The humanistic approach. (2014). Approaches to Psychology. Retrieved from:
Retrieved from: -- methods&Itemid=24

Cite this Document:

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