Mental health treatment is becoming increasingly individualized for clients. This is significant because it means treatment centers acknowledge that not one person experiences the same distressing symptoms, even when two people are diagnosed with the same condition. Therefore, effective treatment must be tailored to fit the needs and goals of each client.
Humanistic treatment refers to the ideology that, rather than grouping people together based on identity or condition, believes each person has an individual nature. It is an approach to psychotherapy that addresses the needs of an entire person instead of solely relying on a therapist’s opinion. There are several reasons that make the humanistic therapy approach to treatment valuable, particularly because it helps individuals find meaning in their struggles.
Understanding Humanistic Therapy
Humanistic therapy is derived from the field of humanistic psychology, which supports the belief that all humans are unique and deserve to be recognized as such. Humanistic psychology also stresses the belief that humans are innately good. Therefore, humanistic therapy focuses on an individual’s strengths, skills, and other positive characteristics that make them a unique human being.
One of the main characteristics of humanistic therapy is that it stresses the development of unconditional love and positive regard for the client and towards others. It challenges the stigma of mental health that emphasizes people with mental health disorders or addiction do not deserve as much respect or appreciation as those that do not struggle with their mental health. Humanistic therapy teaches individuals that how they view themselves and the world around them determines their daily thoughts and actions.
Along with unconditional positive regard, several notable elements are highlighted in humanistic therapy. These elements include:
- Free will
- Challenging and overcoming criticism
- Subjective experience
- Peak experiences
How Is the Humanistic Approach Different From Other Psychotherapy Approaches?
Many qualities set humanistic therapy approaches apart from other psychotherapy approaches. For example, many traditional psychotherapy approaches focus on an individual’s psychological deficits. This includes recognizing an individual’s cognitive, behavioral, or emotional functioning that seems to present at lower levels than expected. In contrast, humanistic therapy highlights positive qualities that set a person apart from others, not their deficits.
Another factor that sets humanistic therapy apart from other approaches is that it is a holistic treatment. Holistic treatment refers to a “whole-person” approach, focusing on treating the mind and body simultaneously instead of just one independently. Many traditional therapy approaches focus on treating a specific diagnosis, which can neglect an individual’s sense of uniqueness and subjective identity.
Examples of Humanistic Therapies
Some of the most common forms of humanistic therapy include:
- Existential therapy: This form is an approach that helps clients find purpose and meaning for their place in the world. Existential therapy effectively challenges existential distress and fear of the unknown as it helps individuals accept responsibility for their actions and teaches them that they have the power to bring greater purpose to their lives.
- Narrative therapy: Narrative therapy encourages clients to conceptualize their treatment experience as a new beginning in life.
- Gestalt therapy: This form focuses on a client’s current life circumstances instead of focusing on their past. Gestalt helps clients identify meaning from their challenges.
- Transpersonal therapy: Spiritual wellness plays a significant role in this therapy. It can enhance an individual’s spiritual development and quality of life while bringing greater awareness to what makes the human experience worthwhile.
When Is Humanistic Therapy Used?
It is essential to understand that humanistic therapy does not solve mental health conditions. Instead, it works to increase an individual’s willingness to change by identifying greater meaning and purpose in their lived human experience. Humanistic therapies complement traditional treatment for several conditions, some of which include:
- Trauma or PTSD
- Relational issues
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Personality disorders
- Substance use and addiction
A client does not need to have a mental health diagnosis to experience the benefits of humanistic therapy. Humanistic therapy is recommended for anyone seeking:
- to increase their sense of self-esteem
- greater meaning and purpose in life
- motivation to move forward in life
- to maximize their personal growth potential
- comfort in who they are
- relief from feelings of judgment, shame, or guilt for being who they are
There are many benefits to humanistic therapy. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that it focuses on the here-and-now rather than allowing an individual to get caught up in the past. Humanistic therapy teaches clients that they can make positive behavioral changes that can affect their lives for the better moving forward.
The humanistic approach to mental health treatment highlights the importance of recognizing that each person has unique needs, regardless of their diagnosis or symptoms. Humanistic therapy emphasizes unconditional positive regard and teaches clients to focus on their strengths, abilities, and potential to motivate positive changes in behavior. It is essential that humanistic therapy encourages clients to believe they are capable of making positive decisions for themselves in life. SoCal Mental Health is a mental health and addiction treatment center specializing in many areas of treatment, including humanistic therapy. We believe that—even when people share the same diagnosis—treatment should emphasize the uniqueness of each and every individual being treated. If you or a loved one could benefit from humanistic therapy, call us at (714) 328-4760. Today could be the start of you putting yourself and your mental health first, which can only lead to positive change and a greater sense of purpose.