If you recall, humanistic theory is focused on the human experience; this theory specifically looks at the human point of view. It's also focused on human potential, or what people can do, so it's very much a positive view of humans and of psychology.
Humanistic theory is centered on conscious thought, as opposed to psychodynamic theory, which is focused on unconscious thought. Therefore, humanistic therapy is client-centered. In contrast to psychodynamic therapy, which is very much guided by the therapist, humanistic approaches view the client as the center of the therapy, and the agent of effective change.
In other words, the clients are the ones that can actually help themselves to get better, and they set the tone and determine what is discussed in the therapy session. This a very non-directive approach, and it's based on the insights of the patients themselves.
The therapist might simply guide the patient along, asking questions that are open-ended to help reflect what the patient might want to talk about, or any issues in the back of the patient's mind that the patient might want to bring to the front.
As we discussed in a previous lesson on humanistic theory, one of the important figures in the development of this theory was Carl Rogers.
Rogers was an American psychologist and therapist in the mid-1900s, and he laid out four conditions for effective therapy. These conditions were originally applied to Rogers' client-centered therapy, but they can also be applied to some other forms of therapy in general.
The underlying belief is that the therapist thinks the client is inherently good and treats the client as such. This, in turn, leads the client to have an acceptance of him or herself, whereas previously, the client might not have thought of him or herself as being an inherently good person.
Through the unconditional positive regard on the part of the therapist, the client comes to accept his or her different faults.
By having empathy, the therapist is able to understand the client on not only an intellectual level, but an emotional level as well.
Instead of hiding behind the professional role like in some forms of therapy, or being secretive, the therapist should disclose some personal information so that the client doesn't feel like he or she is being held at arm's length.
If the client feels a sense of authenticity from the therapist, the client is more likely to build a positive relationship with that person.
Instead, the therapist acts as a sort of mirror, providing a reflection through the conversations with the client, allowing the client to see him or herself more clearly and to come to an understanding of his or her own thoughts and feelings.
Again, the client is supposed to be the agent of his or her own change, so the questions the therapist asks are open-ended. Asking questions such as "What do you think about that?" and turning back to client ultimately helps the client reach understanding and acceptance.
The second approach to therapy we'll be discussing in this lesson is cognitive therapy. Like cognitive theory, cognitive therapy is a larger category under which a lot of different ideas and theories fit.
However, at its basis, cognitive therapy tries to recognize what people think, what they feel, and how they behave, as well as understand their internal mental processes. At the heart of cognitive therapy is an attempt to understand how a person perceives an event, and how that can be just as important as the event itself.
The goal of cognitive therapy is to help clients change the thinking patterns that might be leading to the troublesome emotions or behaviors that they have in their lives.
Rational emotive therapy is very influenced by psychodynamic theory, as you'll see. This type of therapy also makes use of the ABC model, in which ABC is an acronym:
The idea is to help the client realize that the problem is not A, the event itself, but rather B, the client's belief or interpretation of that event, which caused him or her to have an adverse reaction to it.
The therapist's goal in rational emotive therapy is to help the client understand the underlying irrational thought patterns and beliefs, which generally take the form of some kind of absolute (e.g., "I should do this" or "I must do this"), when reacting to this kind of event.
After helping the client understand the irrational beliefs, the therapist then aims to help the client challenge those thoughts, and realize that they aren't the ways to think about the event.
The hope is that by gaining insight into the event and the beliefs that follow, the client can recognize these patterns in irrational thought in order to avoid this type of mental loop in the future.
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Erick Taggart.