Published on 14 April 2023

What Is Humanistic Psychology?: Definition, Uses, History

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We live in 2021, a year where everything and everyone is evolving, and so is psychology. As every aspect around us is developing, so are the risks; hence, It has become significantly essential to have the correct information about anything and be competent to avoid any false information.

In simple words, psychology is just a state of mind. Every person has a different psychology toward their lives. Psychologists are the ones who study the mental process, brain function, and behavior. 

Old ways of psychology that were being practiced are now more in action and accepted, but naturally, as people grow and welcome new ideas, they tend to look at these new upgrades with uncertainty.

Like everything, humanistic psychology expanded its influence in the 1970s and the 1980s and now emerged in 2021. Before explaining why it is criticized, let's learn what humanistic psychology is.

What Is Humanistic Psychology?

Humanism or Humanistic is a psychological approach that emphasizes the whole person, not just their behavior, to look at stress as free will. Humanistic psychology is also known as a movement that stresses inheriting the existing goodness in people.

A movement in psychology supports the impression that humans, as people, are unique beings and should be identified and treated as such by psychologists and psychiatrists.
Rather than focusing on what is wrong with their behavior, humanistic psychology takes a more consecrated approach, observing an individual and concentrating on the desire for self-actualization. 

To sum it up, humanistic psychology understands human behavior not just from the observer's eyes but also from the eyes of the person discharging that behavior. 

Frequently asked questions

Carl R. Rogers was the first one who started humanistic psychology. He developed client-centered therapy in humanistic psychology therapy.
Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt is remembered as the father of psychology. In 1879 he also started the first psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany.
Humanism has seven principles: wholeness, comprehensive knowledge, human dignity, development, common good, transcendence, and stewardship-sustainability.

History Of Humanistic Psychology

In the middle half of the 20th century, the rise of humanistic psychology came into action as a direct response to behaviorism. The humanist approach responded to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic perspective, which the founders believed was too negative and significantly focused on pathology.

Carl Rogers, a psychologist, was interested in the need to understand all the aspects that helped a person grow, change, improve, and thrive. He believed psychology was meant to solve problematic behavior or mental illness and help people live their best lives and achieve as much happiness and joy as possible.

Rogers believed that all people procure the actualizing tendency or an innate need to strive to become the best possible version of themselves. This concept of self-actualizing inspired psychologist Abraham Maslow to create a hierarchy of human needs.

Maslow suggested that many other basic needs of humans lie under the stereotyped condition of humans. As those needs are fulfilled, more advanced needs take on greater importance, including the need for self-actualization. Rogers described it as the need to fulfill one's absolute potential and be their best version. 

Uses Of Humanistic Psychology

Nowadays, every person wants fulfillment and personal growth, which can motivate them. People can improve their abilities and themselves with the help of humanistic psychology. 

Following are some of the ways that humanistic psychology is applied 

Humanistic Therapy 

There are various types of psychotherapy in the principles of humanism. These types include client-centered therapy, existential therapy, and gestalt therapy. 

Personal Development

To maintain stress, it is essential to work on personal development. It can build self-confidence, which can be crucial in conquering the war against mental illness.

Social Change

It is essential to develop societies and communities surrounded by an individual. A social change can make well-being life and also provide social support.  

Examples Of Humanistic Therapy

Client-Centered Therapy

This therapy is also known as person-centered therapy and Rogerian therapy. It is one of the primary types of humanistic therapy. In this therapy, therapists show positivity to their clients and also help to focus on their current and future goals, which can lead to fulfillment and happiness. 

Gestalt Therapy

During this therapy, the therapist encourages clients to process and experience negative feelings or issues; then, they will try to resolve them themselves. 

Existential Therapy

This therapy usually works more on philosophy than other approaches. The therapist helps to explore the meaning of life and things that happen in life. This therapy mainly concerns issues in the present rather than the past. 

How Do I Find A Humanistic Therapist?

Every therapist has their way of treating their clients. Sometimes it would be effective. Sometimes, it wouldn't. Finding the right and perfect therapist who can treat issues very well is difficult.
Here are some tips before appointing a therapist

  • Check the therapist's degree 
  • Take note of how much fees the therapist will charge per session
  • Do not go without any referrals
  • Ask the therapist about therapy before the treatment. 
  • Check whether he has a Doctor of Philosophy degree or not. 

Criticism And Assumptions Faced By Humanistic Psychology

The humanistic psychological approach, with any viewpoint, is the breeding ground of critics because of its concepts. People tend to have several points to criticize about the humanist approach, and sometimes due to such criticism, the correct information fails to reach the people, which affects everyone and even the youth.

This results in the inability to speak and share their feelings, not understanding what to feel and what some particular sense might be. Which, in the end, affects the world and its future.

One of the significant criticisms faced by humanist psychology is that its notions are too vague.

  • Critics debate that subjective ideas such as self-actualization and authentic experiences are challenging to objectify; an adventure for one individual may not feel natural for another individual.
  • Critics also claim that science is not applied to the humanistic psychological approach because it involves and revolves around too much common sense and not enough objectivity.

Due to these reasons, critics believe that conclusions drawn from the humanistic approach are subjective experiences and almost impossible to verify, making research in humanistic psychology unreliable.

However, humanist psychology tackles criticism profoundly by its strengths and impact on society, making itself easier to understand for ordinary people and critics and showing results because therapists practicing humanistic psychology provide the correct information on humanistic psychology. 

Strength And Impact Of Humanistic Psychology


One of the greatest strengths of humanistic psychology is that it emphasizes of individual's personal choice and responsibility, which fuels self-fulfillment. It also satisfies most people's idea of what being a human means and values its unique ideals.

The humanistic approach in therapy unstructured interviews allows one to access one's thoughts and experiences without directing the session towards a specific topic, which helps the therapist understand the individual more significantly, enabling him to give the therapist more insight and feedback.

Humanistic psychology has drawn praise for helping people to take power and control their mental health. People have much to contribute to their mental health; that's what the humanistic approach promotes.

The humanistic approach acknowledges the decisive role of environmental influences in influencing an individual's mental health and well-being. Environmental experiences help shape our behavior and our perspective viewing the world. This is supported by numerous studies that state, "A good environment encourages and influences good and positive mental health," making it scientifically proven. 


People tend to have a more positive outlook towards different situations and less ethnocentrism. Humanistic psychology promotes individuality, uniqueness, and freedom.
The humanistic approach helps people feel empowered, more confident, optimistic, energetic, and productive.

It helps remove the stigma of therapy from society and makes it more acceptable and normal. 


Stigma regarding humanistic psychology is born due to the lack of correct knowledge about it and facts unknown to people fueling the stigma. Promoting the correct information around the globe should be the motive. We all know that optimistic minds in society encourage growth and development in the community and help create a better and safer work environment; that's what humanistic psychology believes.

The humanistic approach continues to imply a powerful influence on youngsters and help them in the areas of Education, philosophy, transpersonal psychology, personal growth, and even politics. Humanistic psychology remains a vital part of the field that contributes significantly to studying and understanding the human mind and behavior.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Humanistic psychology is one of the best psychology which treats mental illness. Many types of therapies are used in this psychology, such as client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and existential therapy. 

Every therapy has its benefits; it all depends on how you coordinate. The therapist encourages clients to explore their nature and tells them to visualize their current and future goals through humanistic therapy.