WHAT IS HUMANIST THERAPY?

Humanist therapies focus on a more holistic approach to mental illness. It might sound a bit 'hippy-dippy' or 'new-age' for some, but the premise is that by helping a person access and understand their feelings, they will gain a sense of meaning in their life and reach a point of self-actualisation. How does that sound now?

It is based on the personality theories of American psychologist Carl Rogers (among others). It works on the principal that people are, on the whole, good.

Its holistic approach encourages us to look at ourselves as a whole person, rather than just the individual parts that makes us what we are. Using that idea of self exploration, rather than looking at other people and what they may be doing, it holds spiritual aspiration to be an integral part of who we are as people.

Humanist therapy is based on the belief that our personality is composed of 5 elements; behavioural, emotional, intellectual, physical and creative.

Therapy will help you remove or replace the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are not helping you produce a positive state of being. By integrating more of the 5 elements, the idea is that we become more self-aware and authentic to who we really are by recognising the strengths, creativity and choice that we have at the present time.

HOW DOES HUMANIST THERAPY WORK?

The therapist will help you develop a healthier, stronger sense of who you are as a person. They will discuss your feelings to help you gain a sense of meaning for your life. One of the main ways they will do this is through empathy.

In many other forms of therapy, the therapist will just aim to understand your point of view and propose a solution. We're simplifying here admittedly but with humanist therapy, your therapist will, effectively, attempt to see the world as you see it and empathise with you.

As in other types of psychotherapy, the relationship between the patient and therapist is key. With humanist therapies, another important factor is known as unconditional positive regard.

This refers to the care that the therapist needs to have for the client they are working with. It is based on warmth, acceptance and being non-judgemental. The therapist should not be seen as the one in authority, as this would stifle the flow of information between them. The feelings of the patient need to be shared, rather than forced upon.

There are a number of different types of humanist therapies, including:

  • Existential Therapy.
  • Gestalt Therapy.
  • Human Givens Psychotherapy.
  • Person-centred Therapy.
  • Psychosynthesis.
  • Reality Therapy.
  • Solution-focused Brief Therapy.
  • Transactional Analysis.
  • Transpersonal Psychology.

WHO IS HUMANIST THERAPY FOR?

Humanist therapies can be used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, anxiety, personality disorders and depression. Many advocates of this kind of therapy believe it can help anyone, with or without any form of mental illness, to lead more productive lives.

It can also be used to help those who experience drug or alcohol addictions.


If you'd like to share your experiences of any form of humanist therapy (or any other treatment) with our community so they can better understand how it helped you, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.