Who are the founders of Existential-Humanistic Psychology?
- Phenomenology is the most important core belief of existential-humanistic psychology and psychotherapy. The founders of phenomenology were from Germany: Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).
Jul 23, 2019 · Part 4: Who is an existential-humanistic therapist? Meaning and self-actualization are essential to creating a rich and fulfilling life. Working with an Existential-Humanistic therapist can help ...
Existential-Humanistic psychology has played an important role in the treatment of psychopathologies by looking at individuals as a whole person and living in a socially interconnected and holistic world. In order to appreciate how this came about it is important to get an overview of the development of humanistic psychology from a historical, social, and geopolitical perspective. On December 11, 1940 Carl Rogers, at the age of 38, spoke to the Psi Chi chapter of the University of Minnesota - his speech was titled \\"Newer Concepts in Psychotherapy\\". This was the origin of humanistic psychotherapies (Cain, 2002). Cain also wrote that this speech received a lot of excitement and also criticism. Carl Rogers would later identify the date of the Minnesota speech as the birth of client-centered therapy. This talk led Carl Rogers to write a book, Counseling and Psychotherapy, which eventually become a landmark in the history and development of humanistic psychology (Rogers & Russell, 2002). These new concepts of humanistic psychology emerged as an alternative to the present day behavioral therapies and psychodynamic processes. The humanists believed that the behaviorists and the psychodynamic therapies did not integrate the goals and aspirations of the clients being treated. This movement was called the \\"third force\\" following psychoanalysis as the first force and behaviorism as the second force. Three major strands of humanistic therapy evolved during this process: client-centered therapy (CCT), Gestalt therapy, and existential therapy (Elliott, 2002). Carl Rogers (1902-1987) developed CCT, currently called person-centered therapy (PCT) while Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) developed the human motivational theories that led to self-actualization. Friedrich Perls (1893-1970) and Paul Goodman (1911-1972) were responsible for the development of Gestalt therapy (Strumpfel & Goldman, 2002), while Rollo May (1909-1994) popularized and advanced the existential movement in the United States (Bugental, 1996). All of these therapies focused on helping the individual self-discover the healing process, leading eventually to improved self-esteem. High self-esteem has many positive social benefits: individual happiness (Shackelford, 2001), academic achievement (Schmidt & Padilla, 2003), and supportive social behavior (Schimel, Arndt, Banko, & Cook, 2004).
Several authors have identified common and unique characteristics of humanistic psychology (Shaffer, 1978; Greenberg & Rice, 1997; Cain, 2002). The five core beliefs that emerge from these authors are: a phenomenological approach; a tendency for a person to attain self-actualization; a holistic perspective and integrated view of a person; that each person has the ability to determine for them what is good and bad; and for the therapist to respect the subjective experience of a person unconditionally. These five major characteristics of humanistic psychology are interrelated and interdependent (Shaffer, 1978).
Phenomenology is the most important core belief of existential-humanistic psychology and psychotherapy. The founders of phenomenology were from Germany: Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). Using this concept, humanism focuses on the unique conscious experience of each human being. So in order to understand the person one needs to understand their perception of reality (Kendler, 2005). It is very important to understand a person's subjective or conscious experience without any judgment, bias, expectation, or comparison. It is only then that a humanistic therapist can assist a person in dealing with his or her own issues. According to Abraham Maslow self-actualization implies that a person is experiencing reality with all of their faculties and feeling a sense of connection with the rest of humanity and their (Maslow, 1971). The question is: Who or what is the entity that is going through this experience? It is the self. The construct of self, also called self-concept, plays a very important role for all humanistic psychotherapists. The self is constantly evolving and changing from childhood and eventually it incorporates the self-image into one whole self. Humanists believe that a person has the capacity to change their behavior and have the internal mechanism to heal and grow as individuals. Each person is viewed as an indivisible whole - a gestalt. Humanistic psychology is monistic in its approach and does not believe in the dualism of the body and mind. The person is interconnected and integrated.
Based upon foundational principles of existential-humanistic psychology many diversified theories have emerged that directly or indirectly induce social change: existential therapies, transpersonal psychology, positive psychology, meditative therapies, and interpersonal psychodynamic therapy (American Psychological Association Division 32, Humanistic Psychology, 1999). Some recent advances in humanistic theory and therapeutic practice that increase self-esteem and that have a social impact include (see Greenberg & Goldman, 1988; Greenberg & Rice, 1997; Lampropoulos, 2000; Bohart & Greening, 2001; Cain, 2002; Seeman, 2002; Stiles, 2002; Goldfried, 2004): Client-centered therapy + Gestalt therapy = Experiential Therapy. The experiential therapies include: Focusing-Oriented Experiential Psychology (Eugene Gendlin, Laura N. Rice); Process-Experiential Therapy = CCT + Gestalt + Existentialism (Leslie Greenberg, Robert Elliot; Mahrer's Experiential Approach. Positive psychology (Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi). Perceptual field approach (Arthur W. Combs): people behave according to their perception of reality. The focus is on emotion and bodily experience.Family therapy (Virgina Satir) focusing on the whole family.
Many studies have confirmed the validity of humanistic psychotherapy and reinforced its position in treating the individual, helping their self-esteem, and making a significant contribution in diversified areas of social change (Norcross, et al., 2001; Asay & Lambert, 2002; Richert, 2003; Gazzola & Stalikas, 2004). Research is more limited concering the existential part of humanistic psychotherapy but the tenets of existential psychology is present in the emerging bodies of psychotherapy models.
The social outcomes of existential-humanistic therapy very often results in improving the self-esteem of an individual. Self-esteem has been directly linked to happiness (Shackelford, 2001), academic achievement (Schmidt & Padilla, 2003), divorce (King & Raspin, 2004), social behavior (Schimel, Arndt, Banko, & Cook, 2004), social stigma (Lampropoulos, 2001), eating disorders (Safer, Lively, Telch, & Agras, 2002), and depression (Arndt & Goldenberg, 2002).
Academic achievement and retention are related to many variables, such as self-esteem, gender, social factors, alcohol consumption, and emotional health (Pritchard & Wilson, 2003). Pritchard and Wilson (2003) conducted a study to determine the correlation between emotional health of a student and the GPA. The same study also established the relationship of social health and GPA. The participants in this study consisted of 218 undergraduates from a Midwestern university. The following variables were measured using various scales and self-assessment questionnaires: emotional health, perfectionism, self-esteem, coping tactics, affective states, optimism, social health, and alcohol behaviors. The results of the study showed a positive correlation between the positive emotional health factors and academic success; also the study confirmed that individuals with negative attitudes and low self-esteem had lower retention rates.
According to a study conducted by Trautwein and Ludtke (2006) that students who achieve high grades improve their self-esteem. Similarly many other variables lead to greater self-esteem (love and encouragement by parents, respected by friends and family, achievement, correlation between hard work, success, and happiness). The social impact of having a positive self-esteem can have a multitude of benefits: obtaining a good job; job satisfaction; developing the desire to help others achieve the benefits of self-esteem; creating a happy family environment; contributing to society; and becoming aware of the interconnectedness of the global community.
Mindfulness has been associated with words such as awareness, spaciousness, concentration, insight, and focused attention. The two basic approaches are: (1) TM-type meditations, where the focus of attention is on a single object (samatha) or the repetition of mantra and (2) mindfulness mediation, where the key factor is to observe the continuous movement of thoughts (vipassana).
Mindfulness makes an individual aware of the origin of their thoughts. Awareness also helps in reducing the fragmentation of the self into a whole. This leads to a better appreciation of the self and creates higher self-esteem. Once an individual feels better about them then only are they able to make a positive contribution to society and the world that they are part of. The not only feel confident about them but also generate the desire and ability to help other achieve the same confidence and self-esteem.
The poem 'Guest-House' by Rumi (Barks & Moyne, 2004) beautifully captures the concept of mindfulness in welcoming difficult \\"guests\\" that knock on the doors of our consciousness.
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- A Brief History of Self Psychology
- Existential-Humanistic Aspects of Self Psychology
- Values and Ideals
- Advantages of Self Psychology Over Existential-Humanistic Therapies
- What Self Psychology Can Learn from Existential Humanism
- Summary and Conclusions
Self psychology is largely the creation of Heinz Kohut, although there are many other creative theorists currently adding to and modifying self psychology theory and clinical practice. Some of these are Arnold Goldberg (1978, 1980), Robert Stolorow (Atwood & Stolorow, 1984; Stolorow, Brandschaft, & Atwood, 1987; Stolorow & Lachmann, 1980), Michael Basch (1980, 1983), Paul and Anna Ornstein (Ornstein & Ornstein, 1980, 1985), and Estelle and Morton Shane (Shane, 1985; Shane & Shane, 1980). Kohut was a Viennese-born psychoanalyst who lived, practiced, and taught in Chicago after coming to the United States in 1940. Until 1971, when he published his first book, The Analysis of the Self, Kohut was known as an orthodox analyst, a favorite of Anna Freud's, and a leading light in the branch of Freudian analysis loosely called ego psychology. Starting with his 1971book, however, he began to create a theory and form of therapy that, although including the analytic basic assumption of the dec...
Although a complete exposition of self psychology is beyond the scope of this article, I shall attempt to discuss aspects of the theory and therapeutic methodology in considering each of the points I make.
Although Freud's concept of the superego certainly stressed the importance of internalized (usually introjected) moral precepts and ideals in human functioning, Kohut made the presence of firm, coherent, mature ideals part of the basic strength or resiliency of the individual. These ideals are part of the idealizing pole of the bipolar self. Significantly, he does not specify which values he thinks people should have-that, he believed, was up to the individual. He did believe, however, that these values and ideals are important ingredients in a cohesive, resilient self, as important as the individual's ambitions, which are part of the other pole of the self. For example, one client of mine, a handsome, charming, intelligent man, was a successful lawyer. He worked in an area of law that he saw, however, as meaningless, and his view of the worth of his work made it impossible for him to feel proud of his success. His lack of firm values and ideals also made it impossible for him to d...
If Kohut merely mirrored many of the ideas and beliefs of existential-humanism, there would be little advantage to his theory. However, I believe there are many advantages to self psychology, advantages that originally stimulated me to attempt to integrate self psychology with Gestalt therapy (Tobin, 1982).
All too often one gets the impression from reading Kohut that his theoretical and philosophical ideas sprang spontaneously from his own mind and were not based on the ideas of others. For example, Winnicott's concept of the "subjective object" is very similar to Kohut's concept of the "selfobject," but Kohut makes no mention of Winnicott as a contributor to his own theories. Recognizing this, he attempts to explain this neglect as due to his aim, at least in his 1977 book, The Restoration of the Self, of "an attempt to struggle toward greater clarity" rather than "scholarly completeness" (Kohut, 1977, p. xx). Similarly, Rogers has made extremely important contributions to the use of empathy in therapy and, although Kohut earlier defined empathy differently from Rogers in his last article (Kohut, 1982), he seemed to be taking an identical position (Chessick, 1985), yet there is no mention of Rogers. Rollo May (1958) 30 years ago gave a profound description of the compartmentalizati...
In this article I have attempted to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of orthodox psychoanalysis and existential-humanistic psychology, to show how psychoanalytic self psychology incorporates many of the strengths of each while avoiding many of the weaknesses, and to give some flavor of the philosophical assumptions that underlie self psychology. I have also made an attempt to point to some lacks in self psychology that I believe existential humanistic psychology could rectify. I tried to integrate some of the theoretical concepts with the philosophical assumptions, but, be cause of the limited scope of the article, was unable to bring in more than some of the very basic concepts, such as the self, the selfobject, empathy, and optimal responsiveness. I want to emphasize that I have discussed these concepts in a very cursory way. There are also a number of other important theoretical and practical aspects of self psychology that I did not even mention: the concept of trans mu...
Bob Edelstein, L.M.F.T., M.F.T., is an Existential-Humanistic psychotherapist based in Portland, Oregon.In addition to being a therapist for over 40 years, he also provides consultation ...
The therapist is always, first and foremost, a human being relating to another human being. Love is part of this equation. The Pull of Death and the Embrace of Life
conformity, banality and other deformations of the human spirit. By the late twenties and early thirties, European psychiatrists who were inspired by existentialism started to create a new approach to the study and treatment of mental disorder called Daseinsanalysis, existential analysis, or existential psychotherapy.