Understanding the Humanistic Approach in Counselling

What is the humanistic approach in counselling? What is the purpose of humanistic therapy? What is an example of humanistic therapy?


Garry Ebrey. Diploma Counselling. Accredited Counsellor.

2/1/20241 min read

The humanistic approach in counselling is a therapeutic approach that focuses on the individual's unique experience and innate capacity for personal growth and self-actualization. It places emphasis on the present moment, the client's subjective experience, and the therapeutic relationship. The purpose of humanistic therapy is to help individuals develop self-awareness, self-acceptance, and personal responsibility, ultimately leading to personal growth and improved well-being.

Unlike other therapeutic approaches that may focus on diagnosing and treating specific mental health conditions, the humanistic approach aims to facilitate personal growth and self-discovery. It views individuals as inherently good and believes that they have the potential to make positive choices and lead fulfilling lives.

One example of humanistic therapy is person-centered therapy, developed by Carl Rogers. In person-centered therapy, the therapist creates a supportive and non-judgmental environment where the client feels safe to explore their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. The therapist provides empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness to foster the client's self-discovery and personal growth.

During person-centered therapy sessions, the therapist actively listens to the client, reflecting back their feelings and thoughts to help them gain insight into their experiences. The therapist does not provide advice or solutions but instead encourages the client to trust their own inner wisdom and make their own choices.

Another example of humanistic therapy is Gestalt therapy, developed by Fritz Perls. Gestalt therapy focuses on the integration of the mind, body, and emotions, and emphasizes the importance of awareness and personal responsibility. In Gestalt therapy, the therapist may use techniques such as role-playing, empty chair dialogues, and guided imagery to help clients gain insight into their patterns of behavior and unresolved emotions.

The humanistic approach in counselling is based on the belief that individuals have the capacity to grow, change, and lead meaningful lives. By providing a supportive and non-judgmental therapeutic environment, humanistic therapy aims to empower individuals to explore their own experiences, develop self-awareness, and make positive choices that align with their values and goals.