The humanistic counselling approach has a positive and optimistic perspective of human nature. It places confidence in the intuitive capability of each individual to recognize that which is needed for themselves, and encourages this process by providing caring and supportive conditions for the patient to realize this potential.
Humanistic therapy is an approach based on Carl Roger’s Person-Centred model. There are three core principles in this practice:
- Unconditional Positive Regard
The therapist is congruent with the client. Congruence is also called genuineness. Congruence is the most important attribute in humanistic counseling.
The therapist does not have a façade, that is, the therapist’s internal and external experiences are one in the same. In short, the therapist is authentic.
By being genuine with the patient, the therapist offers their own spontaneous experiences and influence the shared discourse. When they are true to themselves as they are in each moment, the patient is able to benefit from this relfection of self-acceptance and feel supported in the healing process.
The therapist provides the client with unconditional positive regard. This humanistic approach encourages people to grow and fulfill their potential by learning to value themselves as they are in each moment.
This principle refers to the therapist’s deep and genuine caring for the patient. The therapist may not approve of some of the ptient’s actions but the therapist does approve of the patient. In short, the therapist will cultivate an attitude of total acceptance.
« Unconditional positive regard means that I’ll accept you as you are. »
The therapist shows empathetic understanding to the patient. Empathy is the ability to understand what the patient is feeling. This principle refers to the therapist’s ability to understand sensitively and accurately, but not sympathetically, the patient’s experience and feelings in the here-and-now.
An important part of the task of the person-centered counsellor is to follow precisely what the patient is feeling and to communicate to them that the therapist understands what they are feeling.
In the words of Rogers (1975), accurate empathic understanding is as follows:
« If I am truly open to the way life is experienced by another person, if I can take his or her world into mine, then I risk seeing life in his or her way, and of being changed myself.
Since we all resist change, we tend to view the other person’s world only in our terms, not in his or hers. We do not understand their world.
But, when the therapist does understand how it truly feels to be in another person’s world, without wanting or trying to analyze or judge it, then the therapist and the client can truly blossom and grow in that climate. »