Humanistic psychotherapy

„All real life is encounter.“ Martin Buber

Humanistic psychotherapy is a method based on humanistic psychology – an applied psychological science that aims at coping with psychological distress. It defines itself as a third path between the psychodynamic and behavioral forms of treatment. Humanistic psychotherapy centers on the characteristics that are specifically human. Rather than perceiving the client as a sick, conditioned or compulsive being, in humanistic psychology he or she is seen as a creative designer of his or her own world, as the maker of social reality in relationship to others. The wide and differentiated methodological spectrum of various experience-oriented, psychodynamic, resource- and goal-oriented approaches focuses on developing human potential rather than on treating symptoms. The human organism is defined as a composition of body, mind and soul. This implies a special understanding of the interactions between physical and psychological processes, which is helpful for understanding psychosomatic problems. In psychotherapy, this includes involving the body (i.e. by being mindful of physical sensations). In humanistic psychotherapy, the relationship between client and therapist has a very special, empathic quality. The client’s experience of feeling comfortable, accepted and safe with the therapist is the basis for all further treatment. “Through the Though a person becomes I”, as Martin Buber puts it. A person will find their own identity only in relationships to others. The therapist’s empathy encourages clients to feel empathy with themselves, as well as to look at their own needs in a friendly manner – thus enabling them to strengthen their empathic abilities in their relationships to others. This process of self-acceptance leads to the well-known “curious paradox” described by Carl Rogers: “When I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. I believe to have learned – both from my clients and from my own experience – that we cannot change, we cannot distance ourselves from what we are until we fully accept what we are. It is then that change occurs, almost unnoticed.”