Humanistic Approach

Humanistic Approach In Vancouver, BC

Humanistic Approach: Emphasizing Personal Growth and Self-Actualization
The Humanistic Approach in psychology emerged in the mid-20th century as a response to both the psychoanalytic and behaviorist models that dominated the field at the time. It focuses on an individual’s innate capacity for self-determination and self-fulfillment. Humanistic psychologists emphasize the importance of free will, positive human potential, and the quest for a meaningful life.

Key Points about Humanistic Approach

Inherent Goodness

Humanistic psychology posits that humans are innately good and have an inherent potential to maintain healthy, meaningful lives. It contrasts with perspectives that view human behavior as determined by primal instincts or conditioned responses.

Holistic Perspective

Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only through the eyes of the observer but also through the eyes of the person doing the behaving. They consider the whole person, taking into account individual experiences and subjective perceptions.


A major concept introduced by Abraham Maslow, one of the pioneers of humanistic psychology. He believed that all individuals have an in-built drive to achieve their maximum potential and that they will thrive if given the right environment.

Hierarchy of Needs

Another key concept from Maslow, this is a tiered system of human needs, from basic physiological needs (like food and shelter) up to the need for self-actualization. Needs at the lower levels must be met before individuals can address needs at higher levels.

Client-Centered Therapy

Developed by Carl Rogers, another key figure in humanistic psychology, this therapeutic approach emphasizes the importance of unconditional positive regard, empathetic understanding, and congruence (genuineness) in the therapeutic relationship.

Existentialism and Authenticity

The humanistic approach borrows from existentialist thought, emphasizing individual free will, personal responsibility, and the search for meaning. It encourages living authentically, embracing life with its ups and downs.

Here and Now

Humanistic therapy often focuses on the present moment, rather than delving deep into past experiences, emphasizing current perceptions and feelings.


The humanistic approach tends to steer away from labeling or diagnosing people. Instead, it views challenges and struggles as part of the human experience and emphasizes growth potential.

Potential Criticisms

While the humanistic approach has been praised for its positive and holistic perspective on human nature, some critics argue that it may be overly idealistic or lack empirical rigor compared to other psychological approaches.