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Explain the humanistic Approach to Counselling

Nessie 1 / 1  
Sep 27, 2009   #1
I've just returned to college after 15 years away from any kind of educational learning whatsoever. I decided to do a Higher National Certificate (a Scottish qualification) in Counselling as a starter course to ease me into a Psychology degree. I love the course but, horror of horrors, they've asked us to do a couple of essays as opposed to an exam for the end of the unit. Although we're only 4 weeks in I feel confident that I understand what they're teaching but my essay writing days feel like a very long time ago. My grammar is shocking and my ability to write a coherent paragraph appears to have escaped me. Everyone else on the course is apparently finding the essay writing a breeze and have no idea why I'm struggling so much. I just have no idea what they expect from me with regard to structure etc. Would you please read over this draft and let me know what you think. I realise it is very far from being finished but without a bit of guidance I'm worried I'm off on the wrong track. Thank you very much in advance!

The following is my essay for the humanistic section of the course (I haven't even dared look at the 'What is Counselling?' essay for counselling skills yet!). I'll include the handout she gave us to advise on structure of the essay.



Assessment Question
Write an extended response outlining the historical development of the Humanistic School of Counselling.

Performance Criteria
Identification of the historical development is correct in relation to the Humanistic School of Counselling.

Conditions of Assessment
An extended response requires an answer with a word count of between 500 - 750 words.

This assessment is open book and is to be completed by Tuesday 29th September.

A candidate meeting the performance criteria for the assessed outcomes will be awarded a pass.

What Jade's looking for in a good essay:

- 750 words but you can have up to 75 extra words if you require.
- Never say I, only write in 3rd person.
- Introduction - Introduce your topic. Outline your essay.
- How and why the humanistic movement developed - include the two schools of thought.
- Maslow → Key concepts, linking to the historical influence. You can list other key theorists.
- Conclusion - Emphasising the continuing influence today. We wouldn't have counselling today without it.
- Give a summary of evidence.
- If you quote the internet e.g. blathblathblath, 15/09/09. Use the internet address and the date you accessed it.
- If you quote a theorist from a text book. List who said it and where you read it e.g. Rogers (1953) (Eysenck, the page number, 2003).

- Then in the reference section at the end of your essay you can list which book it came from e.g. Eysenck, I, (2003) Understanding Psychology. Give the publisher and place of publication. Quote the website addresses you use and the date you access them. If you use a quote from your class notes then use Jades name and the date of the class.

- Don't plagiarise, if you are found to have lifted sections of text from someone else, and have not credited them in your reference section you will be failed.

Learning Outcome 1
Explain the Humanistic Approach to Counselling
Word Limit 750

The Humanistic Approach to counselling was established as a way to expand and consequently improve upon the two other schools of thought; behaviourism and psychoanalysis, which had, up until the first half of the 20th century dominated psychology.

Behaviourism, which is called the first force in psychology, is a science based psychology that takes an objective view of people's learned behaviour. Behaviourists believe that human beings are a product of their environment as opposed to a more complex combination of thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Humanists believe this to be a view that is both cold and rigid.

Psychoanalysis, the second force in psychology, takes a subjective view of the human mind. Psychoanalysts believe that any problems or issues being dealt with in the present can be better explained with the analysis of a person's past. Psychoanalytic theorists (such as Freud and Jung) felt that the best way to assist people was to analyse their dreams and inner thoughts thus giving them a better understanding of their subconscious. Humanists felt that this theory neglected to consider people as individuals and was a pessimistic view of humanity.

"The study of crippled, stunted, immature and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and cripple philosophy" (Maslow, 1954)

Humanism is a concept which has existed throughout history. We can see examples of it as far back as Greek Mythology. The core values of humanism: the belief that mankind is intrinsically good and strives for self fulfilment and personal growth is in evidence everywhere from philosophical writings to works of art. It is not limited to any one nationality, religion or time period. 'Love thy neighbour' seems as relevant today as it did centuries ago.

Despite the evident prior existence of humanism, it was not until 1954 that the Humanistic Movement was developed. An American theorist called Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970), who began his career as an experimental animal psychologist, began to research creativity in humans through art and science. Through his work with creative individuals he formulated a theory about self actualisation. He surmised that everyone possesses creativity but that some are unable to realise this talent due to social constraints. Maslow wanted to encourage people to abandon materialistic ways and embrace their full potential through personal growth. It was a stark contrast to the other two schools of thought available at that time.

The Humanistic Movement wanted to take a more positive, holistic look at psychology by encouraging personal growth, self actualisation, self awareness and creativity. Several theorists who had their background in psychoanalytic psychology felt that perhaps a more positive, person centred approach was required. They wanted to view the person holistically and as individual.

In 1964, Maslow, along with fellow theorists Carl Rogers, the psychologist responsible for person centred therapy, and Rollo May, an existential psychologist, attended the First Invitational Conference on Humanistic Psychology in Connecticut, USA. It was during this conference that the third force in psychology was named and the Humanistic Approach was born.

This third force endeavoured to offer people a different, more positive alternative to the other two previous types of psychology. Humanistic Counselling provided a more eclectic approach that encompassed and expanded upon the previous two main schools of thought. It was not a science based theory but an abstract one and, perhaps for the first time since psychology began, psychologists were interested in putting the client on a level playing field. An equal relationship was desired, as opposed to the unequal power distribution between a doctor and patient that had been the tradition up until this point. This is perhaps why any reference made to modern day counselling is frequently associated with the Humanistic Approach.

The Humanistic Approach comprises of three main elements:

Phenomenology: Through empathy, a therapist assists their client to find solutions to their own problems.

Existentialism: Using self awareness and self realisations to develop a positive view of a persons own reality and therefore giving them a quality of life.

Humanism: Exploring ones creativity, encouraging self awareness, self realisation and promoting personal growth

These three elements, in conjunction with a non judgemental, caring, safe and understanding environment combine the basis for what we understand to be counselling today.


- Class handout 'The third force of Psychology'
- Class handout 'Investigating the historical influences and the development of the humanistic movement'
- Class handout 'The roots and Genealogy of Humanistic Psychology'
- Class handout 'Pioneers of Humanistic-Existential Psychology'
- Class handout 'Debates within Psychology: Reductionism vs. Holism. Freewill vs. Determinism'
- Higher Psychology by Cara Flanagan, Mike Cardwell and Morag Williamson (Published April 11th 2007 by Nelson Thornes Ltd)
- thecounsellorsguide.co.uk Accessed 20/09/09
- counselling-directory.org.uk. Accessed 18/09/09
- jhp.sagepub.com/cgi/pdf_extract/5/2/180 Accessed 25/09/09
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 27, 2009   #2
my ability to write a coherent paragraph appears to have escaped me.

I like the irony of your explaining this in a coherent, well-written paragraph.

human beings are a product of their environment as opposed

the present can be better explained with the analysis of a person's past.

These two notions are not opposed, as you seem to imply. If people are products of their environment, then obviously it would be good to know their past history, so that one could see how their environment had shaped them. Behaviorists, do, however, focus solely on understanding and controlling behavior, without reference to an internal mental life. Psychoanalysts, on the other hand, are all about trying to understand and manipulate a person's internal mental life.

"The study of crippled, stunted, immature and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and cripple philosophy" (Maslow, 1954)

Perchance you should work this into a paragraph explaining the quote and its relevance to your essay.

It was not a science based theory but an abstract one

So you admit that the humanist theory is a load of BS? And you believe that scientific theories are never abstract? I don't think you have said what you wanted to say, here.

Overall the essay jumps around a bit too much. You need to more clearly link the three forces. From the sounds of it, you have a thesis, antithesis, synthesis structure among the three forces . . .
OP Nessie 1 / 1  
Sep 28, 2009   #3
Thank you so very much for your help. I completely agree with you about my essay jumping here, there and everywhere.

I think I should remove the Maslow quote because you're right, it's not self explanatory and I don't think it has anything to do with the paragraph prior to it.

As for the humanistic approach being an abstract one and not scientific, that's what they call themselves but you're right, it really doesn't say what I wanted it to.

You've really helped me a great deal, thanks again.

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