Humanistic Approach

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Humanistic approach
Humanists argue against scientific approach to psychology, such as the Biological theory, because
they believe it is dehumanising.
"Psychologists have attempted to squeeze the study of human life into a lab situation where it
becomes unrecognisably different from its naturally occurring form"-Heather 1976
Humanists also believe that we have conscious awareness so we consciously choose our behaviour- it
is the only approach that believes in free will. We can choose our behaviours through autonomy.
However, we are not totally free as we do have `situated freedom'. We are always constrained by
forces bigger than ourselves. For example, we cannot choose when to be born or who our mother is.
We are withheld by society or our body.
The approach is holistic: the emphasis should be on the whole person, whole system, whole of
behaviour or whole experience rather than on the components. Because of this, they reject the
Biological approach as it focuses on specific neurons as potential causes of specific behaviours.
"Moving inexorably through time, sometimes lagging, sometimes so fleeting that we are aware of
awareness in retrospect, the ever-changing kaleidoscope of conscious is marked by changed in
quality- from drowsiness to the freshness of waking, from the grey mists of depression to the
excitement of expectation"- Stevens 2002
This is the description of the `flow of conscious awareness' which takes the centre in the Humanistic
To understand why people perform behaviours it is essential to know about their subjective past
Maslow studies `peak experiences'. These are when the individuals are completely at peace in the
world or `a sense of delight, wholeness, meaningfulness and abundant energy'. The experiences can
occur in different situations, specific to an individual, such as witnessing a sunset or winning a sports
event. Because of the uniqueness of these experiences, they are difficult to study.

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Maslow proposed the `hierarchy of needs' which can be found in pyramid form.
The highest level, self-actualisation, is rarely achieved by humans because it is `to become everything
that one is capable of becoming', or reaching our full potential which is often difficult because of
societal or bodily constraints.
Maslow researched this state of self- actualisation by studying individuals who Maslow believed had
become all that they were capable of, for example Einstein.…read more

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CCT (client-centred therapy) was developed by Rodgers. This was to help overcome incongruence.
The therapist gives the client unconditional positive regard, i.e. positive evaluation of the person with
whatever their choices may be. The therapist cannot be negative towards the client or criticise them
in any way.
Considers free will
Seeks an alternative to the deterministic explanations of behaviour
Not reductionist
CCT has been useful for people in order to reflect and strive to achieve personal growth
Face validity e.g.…read more


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