Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy

Psychotherapists from a Humanistic and Integrative perspective invite people to develop their awareness of what prevents them from unfolding their own true nature in the inner and outer expressions of their life.

Historical Context 

The Humanistic Psychology movement developed in the 1960’s in America out of a need to counter-balance the strong ideological schools of scientific positivistic behaviourism and Freudian psychoanalysis. Both these ideological approaches to the person excluded some of the most important questions that make the human being human; for example, choice, values, love, creativity, self-awareness and human potential.

The Nature of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy

Within the Humanistic and Integrative approach, some commonly held assumptions about the human person include:

The individual is seen as a whole person living out their present level of integration through their body, feelings, mind & psyche.

People have responsibility for their lives and for the choices they make. People are responsible not only for their actions but for their failure to act.

Humanistic and Integrative psychotherapy is based on a phenomenological view of reality. Its emphasis is on experience. Therapist’s within this perspective frequently engage active techniques to encourage the deepening of the therapeutic process. There is a movement away from the goal of understanding events towards the active exploration of experience.

The nature of the person is seen as dynamic. The person is seen as unfolding in different stages. There is always a thrust towards wholeness and life, but sometimes along the way, at any one stage, an overwhelming failure or frustration can be experienced as anxiety, depression or even a vague sense of an unlived life. These experiences can impede the emergence of later stages or result in an uneven integration as the person develops.

The Nature of the Therapeutic Process

The therapeutic relationship is seen as a meaningful contract between equals, and the aims of therapy may include encouraging the self-healing capacities of the client, exploring the client’s concrete individual experience of anxiety and distress rooted in earlier relationships, enabling insight into repeating patterns of behaviour which might be preventing clients from leading fulfilling and satisfying lives.

The attitude and presence of the psychotherapist is important. Yalom (1) speaks about the therapist entering into the client’s experiential world and listening to the phenomena of that world without the pre-suppositions that distort understanding. Carl Rogers (2) focused on the importance of deep, attentive listening on the part of the psychotherapist in promoting change.

The Integrative Perspective

Practitioners in this field embrace an attitude towards the practice of psychotherapy that affirms the inherent value of each individual. It is a unifying psychotherapy that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the emotional, behavioural, cognitive and physiological levels of functioning. The aim of integrative psychotherapy is to facilitate wholeness so that the quality of the person’s being and functioning in life is maximised with due regard for each individual’s own personal limited and external constraints.

Notes:

(1) Yalom, Irwin D., Existential Psychotherapy, (Basic Books Inc., New York 1980)

(2) Rogers, C., On becoming a Person (Constable 1961). Client-Centred Therapy (Constable 1965)

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