Humanistic psychology: the main provisions and methods, representatives, interesting facts

The humanistic trend in psychology is one of the main trends in studying a healthy, creative person. It arose in the 50s of the last century, and already in the next ten years, this direction received its development. In 1964, for the first time, a conference was held devoted to issues of a new psychological direction.

self-actualization - the basic concept

Principle of formation

One of the most important principles of humanistic psychology is that a person is constantly in the process of becoming. For example, a university graduate student will be different from a giggling fashion freshman. After a few more years, a young specialist in his field will also be different from a graduate.He will be able to master new life paths related to his career or, for example, family life.

Those people who deliberately give up their formation, in fact, give up their personal growth. They deny the fact that they have the possibility of a full life. According to humanistic psychology, a big mistake is the rejection of the opportunities to make every moment of your life as rich as possible. For a psychologist in this area, such a view is nothing more than a perversion of what a person could potentially be. Life is an immutable value, and therefore a person must fill every moment of existence with meaning.

Subjective perception

Another of the fundamental concepts of the humanistic direction of psychology is that the only “reality” that is available to a particular person is subjective. A similar view can also be described as phenomenological. Theoretical constructs, along with external behavior, occupy a secondary position in relation to the immediate experience of the individual, as well as the unique significance of this experience for her.As Maslow wrote about this: "Nothing can replace experience, absolutely nothing."

principle of self-occupancy

Integrity concept

One of the most important ideas of humanistic psychology is to consider the individual as a unique whole. Already Maslow saw that psychologists for a very long time focused on a detailed analysis of individual events in a person’s life, neglecting his integrity. They studied the trees, not the whole forest. In fact, the theory, which was first developed by Maslow and developed by his followers, was a protest against such beliefs, originating from behaviorism. The principle of the whole, which is always greater than the sum of its parts, is accurately reflected in many theoretical works of researchers in this area.

meaning of life in the therapy of Frankl

Creativity in man

Humanistic psychology recognizes the presence of a creative side in each person. Perhaps this provision is one of the most significant in all this direction. Creativity is the most universal characteristic that is potentially present in every person since birth. However, people often lose their ability to create as a result of the impact of the external environment - in particular, in the process of obtaining a formal education.

Inner human nature

Freud quite clearly hinted that man is at the mercy of the unconscious forces that control him. The founder of psychoanalysis also stressed that if a person does not control unconscious impulses, it will lead to the destruction of other people or of himself. It is difficult to judge how fair such a point of view is, however, Freud poorly believed that people are driven by a bright beginning.

Personality in humanistic psychology is viewed from the radically opposite point of view of psychoanalysis. Adherents of this trend say that a person is, if not internally good, then at least his nature is neutral.

Of course, this opinion may well be challenged by the person who is attacked by robbers on a dark evening. But Maslow argued that the destructive forces acting in people are a direct result of frustration, inability to satisfy their own needs. By nature, each has positive opportunities for achieving self-realization. Maslow adhered to such a positive outlook on the person throughout his life.

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow

One of the main representatives of humanistic psychology, who is also its founder, is Abraham Maslow. It was he who proposed the concept of a whole person. Maslow's theory was opposed to the then dominant teachings of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Maslow assumed that the essence of each person is extremely positive and is committed to continuous development. In this case, the goal of psychology is to help the individual to find in himself what is already embedded in it. These features according to Maslow's humanistic psychology exist in the form of innate possibilities. They can be updated by external factors. Maslow's ideas and served as the foundation for the further development of the humanistic direction.

Maslow made a great contribution to the development of psychological science. It was he who switched attention from work on neuroses to the study of the characteristics of the psychology of a healthy person.

Carl Ransom Rogers

Rogers is one of the authors of the central concept of humanistic psychology - about self-occupancy. According to Rogers, the latter denotes an innate tendency to growth and development inherent in man.All that is required for the realization of the potential inherent in a person is the appropriate conditions.

Carl Rogers

Rogers concept of "I-concept"

The fundamental element of the structure of personality in Rogers' humanistic psychology is the “I-concept”, which is formed with the continuous interaction of man with the outside world. If there is a discrepancy between the self-concept (“I-concept”), real experience and the ideal “I”, the person enters into action various mechanisms of psychological defenses. They appear either in the selective perception, or in the distortion of experience. In some cases, this leads to psychological maladjustment.

Victor Frankl

Another prominent representative of humanistic psychology is Victor Emil Frankl, a psychologist and psychiatrist from Austria. It was Frankl who created the concept of logotherapy. According to her, the driving force of personal development is the desire to find life's meaning. A person may not ask this question directly, but respond to it with his own real actions and deeds. Values ​​play the role of meaning for each individual.Viktor Frankl in his writings describes three categories of such values:

  • The value of creativity (labor is of paramount importance).
  • Experiences (like love).
  • Life attitude (consciously chosen and developed by the individual position, which he adheres to in critical life circumstances).

In the process of making sense, man comes to self-realization, self-realization. Conscience is the inner authority that helps the individual to determine which of the potential meanings is true.

Victor Frankl

In one of his main works, entitled “Man in Search of Meaning,” Frankl writes about his personal experience of surviving in the terrible conditions of a concentration camp. In the same book, he expounds his experience of finding the value of life, its meaning even in such a terrifying situation. The method of Frankl researchers referred to the category of existential therapy. His work became a source of inspiration for many representatives of the humanistic direction. Frankl himself came to the conclusion that the main stressor for a person is the absence of the meaning of life.According to the psychologist, existential neurosis is essentially identical to the crisis of meaningless existence.

Consultation in the humanistic direction

Techniques in humanistic psychology: customer self-report

Any methods in this direction suggest not the experience that a person has received during his life. That is why the therapists of this psychological school pay a lot of attention to self-reports provided by the subjects. This allows you to take into account the individual perception of the client itself. Other research methods that are considered traditional should only add subjective ones.

Many authors emphasize that for a full-fledged and comprehensive study of the personality it is necessary to begin personal research with observation, projective techniques, and only then apply questionnaires, an experiment.

Tests and other methods

The method of humanistic psychology, the purpose of which is an integral, holistic diagnosis of personality - the questionnaire “Feelings. Reactions Persuasion ”, developed by D. Cartwright. Another test that analyzes the characteristics of self-actualization of personality was developed by E. Shostrom.Based questionnaire self-Shostroma based on the theory of Maslow, Perls and others. The “Test of empathic tendencies”, the authorship of which belongs to E. Mehrabian, is also often used.

The number of techniques used in the humanistic direction is quite large. Back in 1971 in America, S. Peterson developed the so-called “Catalog of ways of personal growth,” which at that time listed about 40 methods used in humanistic psychology. Let us briefly list some of them:

  • art therapy (drawing, music, dance);
  • visualization;
  • Eastern techniques (meditation, yoga);
  • gestalt therapy;
  • psychodrama;
  • transactional analysis;
  • existential psychotherapy.

Non-directive psychological counseling method

This method is one of the main in humanistic psychology. It was first proposed by C. Rogers, who called it client-centered therapy.

What is the use of this method? As already mentioned, the humanistic tendency postulates the original kindness of each person. But positive qualities become visible only under certain conditions, when the individual is in the atmosphere of acceptance, attention. This is what the psychotherapist does in consultation.

A session thus takes the form of a dialogue. The therapist understands his client, does not condemn him, does not expose too much criticism. This becomes one of the main conditions ensuring the rehabilitation of a person. The client realizes that he has a chance to freely and openly talk about the accumulated difficulties, to express himself. This allows you to more clearly understand the events of the world, to increase self-esteem, to find a way out of personal crisis.

Interesting Facts

Consider some interesting facts about the humanistic direction.

  • The ideas proposed by Maslow were criticized by the founder of psychoanalysis Z. Freud.
  • Frankl invented the concept of "Sunday neurosis", which characterizes the depressed psycho-emotional state that a person may experience at the end of a working week.
  • Karl Rogers, one of the founders of the humanistic direction, in his youth planned to become a farmer.
  • The school of positive psychology also belongs to the humanistic direction.
  • As its philosophical base, humanistic psychology relies on existentialism.
  • This trend in psychology opposes the construction of psychological knowledge on the principle of natural sciences.


Human nature cannot be determined in an exhaustive way, because one of its main features is not only what a person does, but also how he does it. A person is not only who he is at a certain point in time. It also contains opportunities and chances for transformation, hopes, dreams. People must recognize both for themselves and for others to create their own lives. Any experience, even negative, at the same time is useful, worthy of respect and recognition. After all, it protects us from making mistakes in the future.

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