Friday 3 March 2017

Humanistic Psychology

Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers

Humanistic Psychology: 

It is a branch of psychology whose primary concern is with the development of the self with the uniqueness of an individual. Sometimes, humanistic psychology is referred to as third-force psychology; the other two forces are behaviorism and Freudian theory.

Humanistic psychology has its roots in philosophy, especially in the existential philosophy of writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre. These philosophers wondered about the nature and purpose of humanity and of human existence (hence, the label existentialism). They were concerned about what it means to be human and how humanity grows and expresses itself in each individual.

Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning here that existentialism is a philosophical movement characterized by a preoccupation with existence. Existential philosophers often describe the human condition in terms such as abandonment, loneliness, despair, and alienation. These feelings are assumed to arise from our lack of certain knowledge about our origins and our eventual end. Hence, the label existentialism because the only knowable reality is existence.
Humanistic psychology is an orientation that readily admits that some people smile when they wallow in mud, some turn up their noses but endure the embarrassment, and others find such behavior quite unacceptable.

In more human terms, humanism is based on the fundamental observation that although we might resemble each other in many ways, each of us is quite different from each other. Our uniqueness is our “self”. And self is the most central concept in humanistic psychology.

The Humanistic Teacher:

The humanistic view emphasizes two things: the uniqueness of the pupil and the teacher’s attitudes towards students. Hence, humanistic teachers are especially sensitive to diversity in their classrooms.

If teaching is both an art and a science, humanists are on the side of art and behaviorists on the side of science. One should keep in mind that most educators do not fall into either the humanist, or the behaviorists, or the cognitive camp. Most are quite eclectic; they borrow from here and there.

Rogerian Humanistic Theory:

Carl Rogers was the first and foremost a psychotherapist. His main concern was with understanding human personality in order to understand how it be changed, how happiness might be restored to saddened lives. 

Rogers’ theory emerged primarily as a reaction against other highly popular approaches to therapy such as Freudian theory and behaviorism. Roger felt strongly that these approaches were far less respectful and humane than they should be.

There are different terms which are used to describe the various emphases of Rogerian theory. These are:

Client-centered therapy (also called “person-centered therapy”): 

It describes several aspects of the system. It indicates, first, that the theory is a therapeutic one; that is, it is designed to be useful to a counselor who deals with behavioral and emotional problems. Second, this label highlights the major difference between this and other approaches to counseling--namely, it indicates that the counseling procedures revolve around the individual. It proposes client-centered as opposed to directive therapy. The counselor’s role in client-centered therapy is accordingly de-emphasized; the therapist, instead of giving advice or solving problems for clients, sets the stage so that the clients themselves define their own problems, react to them, and take steps toward their solution.


The term, commonly used in Rogerian theory, denotes concern with the world as it is perceived by an individual rather than as the world may actually be. Rogers notes that counselors and teachers can never truly know the individual’s private, phenomenological world. But to be truly effective, they must try to understand it. Accordingly, empathy is an important characteristic of any humanistic educator.


It has historically been concerned with human worth, with individuality, with humanity, and with the individual’s right to determine personal actions. Accordingly, the development of human potential tends to be highly valued, while the attainment of material goals is de-emphasized. Thus, Rogers describers self-actualization as the end toward which all humans strive.