During the 1950s, humanistic psychology began as a reaction to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, which dominated psychology at the time. Psychoanalysis was focused on understanding the unconscious motivations that drive behaviour while behaviourism studied the conditioning processes that produce behaviour. Humanistic thinkers felt that both psychoanalysis and behaviourism were too pessimistic, either focusing on the most tragic of emotions or failing to take into account the role of personal choice. Humanistic psychology was instead focused on each individual's potential and stressed the importance of growth and self-actualisation. The fundamental belief of humanistic psychology is that people are innately good and that mental and social problems result from deviations from this natural tendency.
Person-Centred (also: Client-Centred) Approach is the best-known and most widespread form of Humanistic Psychology. It was founded by Carl Rogers and his colleagues in the United States of America.
It views the human being dialectically, that is: how do persons build their relationships and interact with their environment.
It places at the centre of attention the experience and the perception of the individual in the immediate moment (here and now). This includes how the person came to be who they are, what he or she is at the present time, and how the person is able to develop further in the future. The client is trusted to be capable of living his or her life and dealing with their problems using their own personal resources. Therapists are only meant to foster this process.
It is a non-directive approach to psychotherapy. In this sense, breaks with the traditional image and function of the therapist as an expert on the client’s problems. On the contrary, the therapist understands him- or herself as a collaborator and equal partner — developing together with the client through the encounter person-to-person.
It assumes that every person has the capability and tendency to make use of his or her resources in a constructive way. Living in a satisfying way, both personally and in relationships is achieved through increasing self-understanding and openness to the continuous flow of experiencing. This tendency to actualise one’s own possibilities is stimulated and supported in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist’s attitude in this encounter is meant to be authentic, congruent, unconditionally acknowledging the individual otherness of the client, deeply empathic and non-judgemental
In such a fostering environment the client can feel secure, understood and accepted and so develop him/ herself as a fully functioning person.