As Richard G. Erskine and Janet P. Moursund point out in the book Integrative Psychotherapy in Action (2014: 21): “In contrast to the relatively mechanical approach of the behaviorists, the humanistic psychology movement focused on the unique characteristics of the individual. Human beings are more than machines (…) contrary to what Freud led us to believe, human beings are not relentlessly driven by sexual and aggressive impulses (…) Abraham Maslow saw men and women as self-actualizing creatures, driven by the need to become the best we can become (…) the basic premise of humanistic psychology is to understand people from the context of their unique nature as human beings.”
Integrative humanistic psychotherapy is the result of the integration of different techniques of humanistic psychotherapy: transactional analysis, which provides theoretical structure:
- Gestalt, which energizes the therapeutic process by helping to connect the present with the past and with different techniques facilitates the closure of unfinished themes or issues, helping to stop the past from interfering in the person’s present;
- through bioenergetics, body work is introduced in this process;
- Therapeutic grief, which provides psychotherapeutic techniques to work with a spontaneous process that occurs within the person after a loss (death, separation or divorce, loss of job, change of country, etc.) Here appears the work with emotions in psychotherapy;
- very important is the incorporation of emotional work based on John Bowly’s attachment theory, observing how the primary bonds established with our parental and significant figures in childhood influence how we relate to ourselves and others in our adult life.
In short, it is a form of therapy focused on a holistic view of the human being in order to resolve conflicts at deep emotional levels.
How can humanistic psychotherapy help?
PHI provides the techniques and the look at the other so that the therapeutic relationship becomes the relational context for the person who comes to therapy to grow personally at a deep level of self-knowledge, integration and self-awareness. The therapeutic relationship must be safe in order to benefit the person receiving therapy.
The humanistic psychotherapist supports, accompanies and sustains the person so that he/she can go through “places” of him/herself without fear, without blockages.
Therefore, the focus is on taking care of the therapeutic relationship based on honesty, non-judgment and mutual trust. We must provide the therapeutic relationship with understanding, unconditional acceptance and authenticity.
It differs from other therapies or treatments in that it facilitates deep emotional work. It is not magic, so it is important that the person who decides to start this path of self-discovery is involved in the process. The psychotherapist will accompany him/her on this path.
Results of humanistic psychotherapy
Although it may seem, at first, an imprecise process that requires a lot of time and investment, it is not at all. The resources to resolve our conflicts are in ourselves. With a therapeutic process from the integrative humanistic psychotherapy approach, the way to discover them will be paved. All that is required is to break out of the rigid patterns we have used up to now and learn to be creative in the way we manage the obstacles and difficulties of life, as well as the good things that happen to us.
Obviously, not everyone has the time and money for a long process. That is why it is important to be professional and very attentive to people’s needs and demands and to be very respectful of them.