The Potency of Humanistic Therapy
With the ever growing expansion of the modern culture that our American society has wrapped our time and hearts around, we have lost some of the most basic and fulfilling concepts about what it means to be human, and how we can live our lives to the highest potential. In some ways, this is due in part to the fact that we have created an environment for ourselves that is significantly different from the one in which we evolved. Currently in modern society, certain elements of our culture have been exaggerated and others diminished, in order to emphasize qualities that are attractive to the modern individual at this specific moment in time. For example, children learn to dress a certain way, act a certain way, have a good academic standing, assume certain values, be athletic, be happy, etc.. Such social influence has not only created a stark contrast between ‘how it used to be’ and how America is today, but it has also forced us to bend in ways that may veer from our individual desires and characteristics. Thus, we struggle to find a harmonious balance between who we should be according to current society and who our ‘real selves’ are. As a result, we have adapted to a lifestyle of ‘chaos’ or disharmony that has become the assumed or ‘normal’ way of being. Understandably, it may become apparent that a new perspective is necessary, a way to see the world and ourselves anew, in order to break from negative ideas about human nature, improve our mental health, and ultimately self-actualize.
The goal of humanistic psychology is to address these struggles of the mind and to become an alliance to the solution, through techniques such as empowerment and positive regard. The theory begins with the assumption that people have free will, that they are innately good, and that they have intrinsic value. It also assumes that people have the innate need to make themselves and the world better. Much like a plant has the instinctive tendency to grow under the proper environmental conditions, humanistic therapy argues that humans follow the same inborn tendencies. Given the correct amount of positive regard (unconditional love, acceptance, warmth), a healthy sense of congruence (the balance between our ideal selves and our real selves), and an environment that fosters self-actualization, an individual will grow towards psychological wellbeing and eventually reach self-actualization, or a mental state that is essentially “all that the individual can be”. As the theory follows, in conditions where these processes are not met or received in unusual amounts, psychological disorders like depression, mild anxiety, personality disorders, etc. are cultivated (Cain, 2002; Cain, 2010; Dombeck, 2013).
Ultimalty, humanistic theory and therapy is a fundamental cornerstone of effective therapy, and indeed, a shift in thought of practicing psychologist and psychiatrists towards one that more strongly incorporates concepts of humanistic theory...