The Humanistic Perspective

The humanistic perspective focuses on the positive image of what it means to be human. Human nature is viewed as basically good, and humanistic theorists focus on methods that allow fulfillment of potential.
  • Abraham Maslow proposed that an individual is motivated by a hierarchy of needs. Basic needs must be met before higher ones can be satisfied. Arranged in order from lowest to highest (in a hierarchy), the needs are

  • physiological (satisfaction of hunger and thirst)

  • safety (security)

  • belongingness and love (being loved, avoiding loneliness)

  • esteem (achievement, recognition, self‐esteem)

  • self‐actualization (realization of one's full potential).

Maslow also believed that the achievement of self‐actualization is often marked by peak experiences, feelings of incredible peace and happiness in the course of life activities.

  • Carl Rogers, a clinical psychologist, used the theory of self‐concept, which he defined as an organized pattern of perceived characteristics along with the values attached to those attributes. He also assumed that within each individual there is a biological drive toward growth of self‐concept, which can ultimately lead to self‐actualization. Rogers believed that while children's self‐concept is developing, they may internalize conditions of worth, judgments about the kinds of behaviors that will bring approval from others. He felt that, to promote growth and development, parents and authority figures should give a child unconditional acceptance and love, which allows a child to develop self‐acceptance and to achieve self‐actualization. To help his clients get back on the road to self‐actualization, he developed a therapeutic approach called client‐centered therapy, in which the therapist offers the client unconditional positive regard by supporting the client regardless of what is said. The warm, sympathetic therapeutic environment allows the client to be freed of internalized conditions of worth and to resume the self‐actualization process.