Humanistic psychology is often referred to as the “third force” in psychology, after psychoanalysis and behaviorism, and emerged in the mid-20th century as a reaction to those two schools. Humanistic psychology holds that human beings are basically good and have an inherent drive towards self-actualization, a motivation to achieve one’s fullest potential.
Carl Rogers was one of the founders of humanistic psychology. He attempted to ensure that human development led to healthier and more creative existences. Abraham Maslow, who created a hierarchy of needs that places self-actualization at the pinnacle of existence, took up his work.
There are five core principles to humanistic psychology. The first is that human beings supersede the sum of their parts. Second is the idea that human beings experience existence in a uniquely human context. Third, human beings are aware, and are aware of being aware; that is, they are conscious. The fourth principle is that human beings have choice and responsibility. The fifth principle is that human beings are intentional, aim towards goals, and are aware that they cause future events.
One of the most important aspects of humanistic therapy is that of empathy. The therapist learns to see the world through the eyes of the client, so that a less hierarchical relationship between therapist and client develops. Self-help groups are an important part of humanistic therapy.