What Makes Us Humanistic Counselors?
Humanistic counselors base their practice upon a philosophical foundation based on the affirmation of the dignity of every human being. Humanistic counselors acknowledge the responsibility of human beings for their own destiny, having within themselves the answers to improving their own lives and the quality of life of all human beings.
Humanistic counselors recognize and respect the ability of human beings to employ reason, science, intuition, and creativity as tools for the discovery of knowledge and the achievement of goals. Humanistic counselors believe that wellness and health is best achieved by combining personal growth with avid service for the greater good of humanity.
What Defines Humanistic Theories?
Humanistic theories attempt to describe the phenomenologically constructed world of the client by exploring the potential of humanity through the nature and experience of values, spirituality, meaning, emotions, transcendence, intentionality, healthy relationships, the self, self-actualization, creativity, mortality, holism, intuition, and responsibility (among other topics). Humanistic theories arose as a reaction to an increasingly industrialized world, Freudian psychoanalysis, and behaviorism. Humanistic theories first emerged in the writings of Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Karen Horney, and Victor Frankl , and came into full expression in the works of Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Gordon Allport, Carl Rogers, Charlotte Buhler, Virginia Satir, Albert Ellis, and Fritz Perls, among others (Association for Humanistic Psychology, n.d.).
It is within the humanistic counseling tradition that the core conditions of counseling emerged: unconditional positive regard, empathy, congruence, authenticity, caring for the client, phenomenological assessment strategies, self-discovery, and insight. These core conditions permit therapeutic intervention in life areas which were previously inaccessible, such as love, hope, meaning of life, loss, relationships, creativity, holism, spirituality, freedom, transcendence, personal growth, social justice, multicultural and gender issues, responsibility, and interdependence.
Current practitioners of humanistic psychology are found in various theoretical schools, including person-centered counseling, existential counseling, and Gestalt counseling, as well as more contemporary approaches including family therapy, transpersonal psychology, ecopsychology, and constructivism (Association for Humanistic Psychology, n.d.). Mark Scholl's 2008 article on Preparing Manuscripts with Central and Salient Humanistic Content goes into deeper exploration of humanistic themes and content. (.pdf format).