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									      Chapter 11
The Humanistic Approach:
 Theory and Application
The roots of humanistic psychology
 Humanistic psychology has been called the “third force” in
  American psychology, with psychoanalysis and behaviorism
  representing the first two “forces.”
 Humanistic psychology has its roots in existential philosophy,
  which was proposed and explored by a number of European
  philosophers in the early decades of the 20th century.
 Humanistic psychology also owes a great deal to the work of
  three American psychologists: Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow,
  and Fritz Perls.
Existentialist philosophers: Nietzsche,
Kierkegaard, Husserl, and Sartre
Key elements of existentialist philosophy
 We have no choice regarding the life circumstances into which we are
    born.
   After achieving self-awareness and an understanding of the world, we
    can―and must―begin to make meaningful choices.
   Existential anxiety is a major fact of human existence.
   The only meaning that life has is the meaning that we confer on it
    through the choices we make. We are all “lonely heroes” who must
    choose without fully knowing the consequences of these choices.
   We may attempt to avoid making choices and accepting responsibility,
    but if we do, we are displaying “bad faith.”
   People attempt to escape choice and responsibility in different ways:
    by trying to live in the past or in the future, by letting our habit patterns
    take over, or by using addictions as a buffer against existential anxiety.
The roots of humanistic psychology
 Humanistic psychology has been called the “third force” in
  American psychology, with psychoanalysis and behaviorism
  representing the first two “forces.”
 Humanistic psychology has its roots in existential philosophy,
  which was proposed and explored by a number of European
  philosophers in the early decades of the 20th century.
 Humanistic psychology also owes a great deal to the work of
  three American psychologists: Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow,
  and Fritz Perls.
Humanistic psychologists: Carl Rogers,
Abraham Maslow, and Fritz Perls
Key elements of the humanistic approach
 Personal responsibility
 The here and now
 The phenomenology of the individual
 Personal growth
Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
              Grew up in a repressed Midwestern farm family
                 in which the open expression of emotion was
                 discouraged
                Planned a career in agriculture, but changed his
                 mind and went to study for the ministry at
                 Columbia University
                Took graduate courses in psychology while at
                 Columbia and received his Ph.D
                Taught at Ohio State, the University of
                 Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin
                Received a Distinguished Scientific
                 Contribution Award from APA in 1956
                Moved to LaJolla, California in 1963, where he
                 founded the Center for Studies of the Person
Key concepts introduced by Rogers
 The fully functioning person, Rogers’ term for people who:
   – are open to their experiences
   – try to live each moment as it comes
   – trust their own feelings and intuitions
   – are less likely to conform to societal roles or other people’s
     expectations
   – follow their own interests and decide what’s best for themselves
   – experience their feelings deeply and intensely
 Anxiety and defense through subception, distortion, and denial
 Conditions of worth
   – conditional positive regard
   – unconditional positive regard
Conditional positive regard
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
               Had a lonely childhood as a Jewish boy in a
                  non-Jewish neighborhood
                 Tried law school at City College in New York,
                  then transferred first to Cornell and then to
                  Wisconsin, where he became an enthusiastic
                  behaviorist
                 Worked with Harry Harlow at Wisconsin and
                  then worked with E.L. Thorndike at Columbia
                  University
                 Became disillusioned with behaviorism with the
                  birth of his first daughter
                 Taught at Brooklyn College, where he met
                  Horney, Fromm, Adler, Benedict, and
                  Wertheimer, and decided to study the “self-
                  actualized personality”
                 Taught at Brandeis from 1951 until shortly
                  before his death in 1970
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs
Four common misconceptions about
Maslow’s need hierarchy
 The order in which people seek to satisfy these needs is fixed
  and invariant.
 The needs at a lower level on the need hierarchy must be
  satisfied 100% before the person will begin to seek to satisfy a
  higher-order need.
 The way that people satisfy a particular need is the same in all
  cultures and in all historical periods.
 Any given behavior is motivated by one and only one need.

   As common misconceptions, all of these beliefs are false.
Maslow’s study of psychologically healthy
people
 Maslow used what he called “holistic analysis” to identify the following
   set of characteristics that were common to seemingly self-actualized
   people such as Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and
   Albert Schweitzer. According to Maslow, they are people who:
    – tend to accept themselves for who and what they are
    – are less restricted by cultural norms and conventions than the average
      person
    – display self-actualizing creativity in the way they live their lives
    – have relatively few friends, but their friendships tend to be deep and
      rewarding ones
    – have a philosophical and non-hostile sense of humor.
    – have a strong need for solitude and are comfortable being alone
    – express a strong appreciation for life’s experiences
    – are more likely to be aware of “peak experiences” and to experience them
      more intensely than the average person does
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of
optimal experience
 Using beeper studies, Csikszentimihalyi and
  his colleagues found that people’s most
  rewarding and engaging experiences were
  typically work-related.
 These optimal experiences could be
  characterized by a state called flow.
 Csikszentimihalyi proposed a set of eight
  features that contribute to the sense of flow.
 It isn’t necessary for all eight features to be
  present for a person to experience flow, but
  most, if not all, of them will typically be
  present.
Eight features of flow that characterize
optimal experiences
 The activity is challenging and requires skill.
 One’s attention is completely absorbed by the activity.
 The activity has clear goals.
 There is clear feedback.
 One can concentrate only on the task at hand.
 One achieves a sense of personal control.
 One loses self-consciousness.
 One loses a sense of time.
Optimal experience and happiness in
everyday activities
 According to Czikszentmihalyi, personal happiness comes from taking
  responsibility for our own life and finding meaning and enjoyment in
  our ongoing experiences.
 Although optimal experiences are reported during play and
  recreational activities, they are most often reported during work hours.
 Work that challenges us and tests the limits of our ability and creativity
  is the most rewarding, because it can fulfill our needs on multiple
  levels.
 In one study, high school students who took classes for intrinsic, rather
  than extrinsic reasons, found the learning process more satisfying and
  enjoyable, and reported that, subjectively, the time involved passed
  more quickly.
Application: Job satisfaction and the hierarchy
of human needs
 Most of us will spend many, if not most, of our waking
  hours at work.
 For us to be satisfied with how this time is spent, our jobs
  need to provide more than a steady paycheck; ideally, they
  should help us meet most, or even all, of the needs in
  Maslow’s need hierarchy.
 Maslow therefore promoted what he called Eupsychian
  management–restructuring a work organization to help
  employees satisfy higher-order needs.
Application: Person-centered therapy
 Therapy should be non-directive and “person-centered” because
  therapists cannot understand clients as well as they understand
  themselves.
 Therapists should create the optimal environment in which clients can
  heal themselves. Specifically, this environment requires:
    –   Genuineness
    –   Empathy
    –   Unconditional positive regard
    –   Opportunities for reflection
    –   Resisting the temptation to tell clients what they really mean to say
 Therapists can use the Q-sort technique to assess how the client’s self-
   perceptions change over the course of the therapy.
Distribution of cards in Block’s Q-Sort
Examples of Q-sort items
 Is a talkative individual
 Behaves in a sympathetic or considerate manner
 Initiates humor
 Prides self on being “objective,” rational
 Seeks reassurance from others
 Is productive, gets things done
 Has high aspiration level for self
 Able to see to the heart of important problems
 Is cheerful
 Values own independence and autonomy
 Is calm, relaxed in manner
Distribution of cards in Block’s Q-Sort
Degrees of overlap (perceived discrepancies)
between the real self and the ideal self
Changing real and idea self Q-sorts for a
40-year-old female client (Rogers, 1954)
Degrees of overlap between the real self and
the ideal self
Strengths and criticisms of the humanistic
approach
 Strengths
   – This approach was the first to emphasize the healthy side of human
      personality, and it set the stage for what is now called positive psychology
      (the psychology of happiness, forgiveness, etc.).
   – It has had a huge impact on the way psychologists and counselors
      approach therapy.
   – It has also had a strong and continuing influence in disciplines such as
      education, communication, and business.
 Criticisms
   – Its insistence on free will seems to be incompatible with a deterministic
      view of science, in which all actions can be reduced to physical causes.
   – Many key concepts, such as “self-actualization,” “fully functioning” and
      “peak experience” are not well-defined.
   – Humanistic psychotherapy techniques may have limited applicability.
   – Humanistic psychologists may make overly naïve assumptions about
      human nature.

								
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