What is humanistic counselling? Can it really help me?

Are you ready to work with a qualified counselling professional? Then it’s important to consider how the different types (modalities) of counselling work, so you can find the right therapy for you.

Previously I’ve explored how humanistic counselling, CBT and psychodynamic therapy can be integrated to support your needs (see: Integrative counselling: what is it and how can it help me?). 

 

In this post we’ll look at humanistic counselling in more detail: 

  • What it is
  • The person-centred approach and existential therapy (both types of humanistic counselling)
  • How humanistic counselling could help you

What is humanistic counselling?

Humanistic counselling is an umbrella term incorporating many modalities1 and can help you achieve your full potential (self-actualisation). It helps you explore daily routines and how it feels to be you in your particular context. The therapy focuses on self-development helping you recognise your strengths, creativity and choices in the here and now. 

The counselling space is a safe, non-judgemental and confidential place just to be. There’s no one- size-fits-all so your counsellor will ground the therapy in the things that relate to you. Exploring your concept of self throughout2 and empathising along the way.

But let’s face it, counselling is hard. So much is explored during therapy it can be a lot to process. So it’s important to find a trusting and ethically sound space to open up in. 

The person-centred element of humanistic counselling 

The person-centred approach is an important part of humanistic counselling at Sweet Mental Health. It focuses on your self-worth and value as an individual which, can help you accept who you are and reconnect with yourself.

There are three core assumptions3:

  1. Humans tend to actualise (i.e. make something real) 
  2. To support growth and change the therapist needs to embrace and embody a non-directive approach and attitude
  3. Together, therapist and client co-create conditions which promote growth, challenge and change

Existential therapy in humanistic counselling

I’m a keen advocate for existentialism which explores meaning from a philosophical perspective. It works upon the complexities in life through the human condition rather than just addressing specific problems:

‘Existential therapy encourages resolute living, which is based in the capacity to meet whatever may come with steadfastness and in a spirt of adventure. 4

It’s not a techniques-based approach which, I find helpful because using techniques can hamper human interactions at a deep level.

So how does it work in practice?

I use interpretation and inquiry (hermeneutics and maieutics) to help you explore different perspectives. Always being open, direct and respectful. To encourage exploration I follow what you disclose around your moods, attitudes, feelings and intuition with gentle, but sometimes challenging dialogue.

Together we look at the possibility of change. You may wish to keep life the same or want to do things differently from now on – therapy is a good place for either. We explore being in the here and now and how you feel connected with your self. But if this is too difficult, we can break it down to understand who you’d like to be instead. 

And by working through your strengths you can increase your confidence to become more tolerant of anxiety when facing doubts, fears or challenging situations. But it’s always a balance. On one side we look at your strengths, talents and abilities, on the other we must also explore the darkness within.

Existential therapy is helpful to look at questions in life to do with freedom, responsibility, purpose values and beliefs, while reminding you there are limits to the human condition. This will help you find new paths, deeper passion and yearning to engage with authentic change, and you’ll regain meaning in life.

How humanistic counselling could help you

It takes courage to ask for help in your counselling journey. Maybe you’ve had limited time and space to be yourself. Or you might have had hardships in life which mean few listen and even fewer get your true sense of self. But because there are lots of approaches under the humanistic umbrella1 this could help you more than engaging with one modality alone. 

Humanistic counselling can help you with many things including if you’re feeling lost, have low self-esteem or would like to improve your wellbeing. If you’re living with specific conditions (e.g. anxiety, panic disorders, addiction, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) or have relationship issues you may also benefit.

If you like the idea of humanistic counselling or wish to find out more, do sign up for your free 20-minute consultation. I’m always happy to help you achieve Sweet Mental Health.

Bibliography 

  1. Counselling Directory (2021) ‘Humanistic therapies’ available at: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/humanistic.html (Accessed: 07.12.21) 
  2. Mearns, D. (1997) ‘Understanding theory’ in Person-centred counselling training. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
  3. Tudor, K. (2017) ‘Person-Centred Therapy’ in Feltham, C., Hanley, T. & Winter, L.A. (2017) The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy (4th ed.) London: Sage Publications Ltd. pp. 280-285
  4. Van Deurzen, D. (2017) ‘Existential Therapy’ in Feltham, C., Hanley, T. & Winter, L.A. (2017) The Sage Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy (4th ed.) London: Sage Publications Ltd. pp. 269-274

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