Humanism - Major Schools of Thought - Definitions

Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World - Andrea Bonior 2016

Major Schools of Thought

If you get too bogged down in psychoanalysis or behaviorism, things can start to get a little . . . bleak. Either you’re just an animal whose life purpose is driven by inescapable base urges or you’re more like a machine—and not in a good way. For many in the mid-20th century, those alternatives just didn’t feel right. Don’t humans have something bigger to offer? What about the quest to become a better person—to write, draw, laugh, connect, create music? And can’t altruism exist for a reason other than its ability to make us feel good about ourselves? Enter the humanists. As a psychological school of thought, humanistic psychology, sometimes called the third force (after psychoanalysis and behaviorism), focuses on individual, positive growth rather than on the negative aspects and past baggage of the self. Its influence remains strong today—concepts dealing with emotional intelligence, connection, empathy, purpose, and meaning all fit very nicely into the humanistic framework. Humanistic psychology has also led to a much more connected, supportive vibe between patient and therapist. (In fact, the term patient is now often replaced by the term client.) Equality between therapist and client, demystification of the therapeutic process, and a more collaborative approach to the therapeutic work have been major thrusts of humanistic therapy. Group therapy also emerged from this framework.