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Lucy Tickle

on 9 July 2017

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It emerged in the US in the 1950s as a result of the work of
Carl Rogers
Abraham Maslow

It became known as the '
third force
' in Psychology - alongside behaviourist and psychodynamic approaches - and represented a challenge to both.

Rogers felt that Freud had dealt with the 'sick half' of Psychology, so the humanistic approach concerned itself with explanations of 'healthy' growth in individuals.

Humanistic psychology is an approach to understanding behaviour that emphasises the importance of
subjective experience
and each person's capacity for

There are 3 key concepts:

Free will


The self, congruence and conditions of worth
What is Humanistic Psychology?
All the approaches we've considered so far are determinist - they say that our behaviour is in some way shaped by things out of our control.

Humanistic psychology says that humans are
and have
free will

This doesn't mean people are not affected by external or internal influences but we are
active agents
who have the ability to determine our own development.

Consequently Humanists such as Rogers and Maslow reject scientific models that attempt to establish general principles of human behaviour.

As active agents we are all unique, and psychology
should concern itself with the study of
subjective experience
rather than general laws.

This is often referred to as a
person-centred approach
in psychology.
Free Will
Every person is born with (it's innate) the ability
achieve their full potential
- to become the
best that they can be. We call this

Abraham Maslow
argued that we must meet
a number of basic needs before we can ultimately fulfil our potential

Maslow put these needs in to a
(a ladder which puts the needs in order)
Rogers argued that for personal growth to be achieved, an individual's
concept of self

(the way they see themselves) must be roughly equal to (or have
with), their
ideal self

(the person they want to be).

If too big a gap exists between the two 'selves' the person will experience a state on
and self-actualisation will not be possible due to negative feelings of self-worth caused by incongruence.

In order to reduce the gap between the self-concept and the ideal self, Rogers developed
client-centred therapy
to help people cope with the problems of everyday living.

Rogers claimed that many issues we experience as an adult have their roots in childhood and can often be explained by a
lack of unconditional positive regard
(or lack of unconditional love) from our parents.

A parent who sets boundaries on their love for their child (conditions of worth) by saying "I will only love you if......." is creating psychological problems for the child in the future.

Therefore, Rogers saw one of his roles as an effective therapist as being able to provide his clients with the unconditional positive regard that they failed to receive as children.
The Self, Congruence and Conditions of Worth
Client (Person) Centred Therapy
This is an important form of modern-day psychotherapy

Rogers referred to patients as clients rather than patients as he saw them as experts on their own condition

The therapy is
and the client is encouraged towards the discovery of their own solutions within a supportive and non-judgemental environment

Rogers - an effective therapist should provide the client with three things;
genuineness, empathy and unconditional positive regard

The aim is to
the person's
reduce incongruence
between the self-concept and ideal self and help the person to
become more fully functioning

Rogers' work introduced a variety of counselling techniques. In the UK and US similar counselling skills are practised not only in clinical settings but in education, health, industry etc

Client-centred therapy has been praised as a forward-looking and effective approach that focuses on present problems rather than dwelling on the past. However, much like psychoanalysis it is
best applied to the treatment of 'mild' psychological conditions

such as anxiety or low self-worth

Not Reductionist:
- This approach is
- it believes that subjective experience can only be understood by considering the whole person
- This approach may have
more validit
y than its alternatives because it considers human behaviour within its real-life context

Limited Application:
- It has
little real life application
. Rogerian therapy has revolutionised counselling techniques and Maslow's hierarchy of needs has been used to explain motivation, particularly in the workplace. However, it has limited impact within psychology as a whole. This may be due to a
lack of evidence
and the fact that the approach has been described as a
loose set of concepts
rather than a comprehensive theory

Positive Approach:
- The approach has been praised for 'bringing the person back into psychology' and for promoting a positive image of humans.
- Humanistic psychology offers an
optimistic view
as it sees all people as basically good, free to work towards the achievement of their potential and in control of their lives.
Evaluation Continued...
Untestable Concepts:
- Some of the concepts are
hard to test
. Concepts such as self-actualisation and congruence would be hard to test under experimental conditions
- Rogers did try to introduce more rigour by developing the
(an objective measure of progress in therapy). However the approach describes itself an anti-scentific so lacks empirical evidence.

Cultural Bias:
- Many of the ideas are more commonly associated with individualist (Western) cultures.
- Collectivist cultures such as India may not so easily identify with the values of Humanistic psychology. Therefore this approach may be
Humanists see personal growth as an essential part of what it is to be human. Personal growth is about developing and changing as a person to be able to fulfil your potential.

Not everyone will manage this as there are important
psychological barriers which may prevent it.
1. Working in your groups, decide which 15 words from the table below you
are going to use. Write each of the words on to a cup

2. You need to arrange the cups in to a pyramid shape with 5 levels
- the most important, basic needs should be at the bottom

3. Your job is to decide where to place the 15 words from the basic (survival) needs at the
bottom, to those needs which are ‘nice to have’ at the top.

Hierarchy Activity:
Self-actualisation is at the top of
Maslow's hierarchy of needs

All four lower levels of the hierarchy (
basic needs
psychological needs
) must be met before you can work towards self-actualisation (a '
self-fulfilment need
') and fulfil their potential.

Moving through the different levels of needs is called '
personal growth

Be prepared to justify your decisions!
Transferring Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to an Exam Question:
Full transcript