Humanistic therapies

Last updated 22nd February 2022 | Next update due 21st February 2025

Humanistic therapies focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities to help individuals recognise their strengths, creativity and choice. By working with a humanistic counsellor, you are supported in identifying and overcoming any blocks that are preventing you from achieving your full potential.

What is humanistic therapy?

The humanistic approaches are based on the belief that we all naturally gravitate towards goodness. While of course, difficult life experiences may temporarily block our ability to reach our potential, with the right support, we all have the ability to achieve our goals.

A humanistic therapist will work to create a safe, supportive space where clients will be able to explore themselves and their potential, ultimately working towards developing their own personal growth - mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

In this video, counsellor and supervisor Ben Wrigley explains more about humanistic therapies; what they are, what to expect from sessions and how to find the right counsellor for you.

The benefits of humanistic therapy

The humanistic approaches are especially suited to anyone feeling lost, struggling with low self-esteem or generally looking to improve well-being. Humanistic therapists will also work with people living with specific conditions, such as anxiety, panic disorders, addiction, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

People who are having relationship issues (including family relationships) may also benefit.

If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.

- Carl Rogers

The humanistic approaches

Humanistic therapy is all about self-exploration. The following approaches can help you to increase self-awareness, and direct you towards finding a greater sense of purpose in life.

Existential therapy

Existential therapy focuses on exploring the meaning of certain issues from a philosophical perspective, instead of a technique-based approach.

Gestalt therapy

Gestalt therapy can be roughly translated to 'whole' and focuses on the whole of an individual's experience, including their thoughts, feelings and actions. Gaining self-awareness in the 'here and now' is a key aspect of gestalt therapy.

Human Givens psychotherapy

Human Givens psychotherapy is a relatively new approach that has been described by its founders as a 'bio-psycho-social' approach to psychotherapy. The therapy's basic assumption is that humans have innate needs (called givens) that need to be met for mental well-being.

Person-centred therapy

Person-centred therapy (also known as "client-centred" counselling) focuses on an individual's self-worth and values. Being valued as a person, without being judged, can help an individual to accept who they are, and reconnect with themselves.


Psychosynthesis aims to discover a higher, spiritual level of consciousness.

Reality therapy

Reality therapy is an approach to therapy that focuses on the here and now rather than issues from the past. Developed by William Glasser in the 1960s, the theory behind the therapy is that an individual in mental distress is not suffering from a mental illness; instead, they are suffering from a socially universal human condition as they have not had their basic psychological needs met.

Solution-focused therapy

Also known as solution-focused brief therapy or brief therapy, this approach predominantly looks at what the individual wants to achieve rather than historical problems. Questions are asked by the therapist to help the individual uncover their own strengths and resources. Solution-focused therapy can be especially helpful to those who are goal-orientated and have a desire to change.

Transactional analysis (TA)

Transactional analysis is based on the theory that we each have three ego states: Parent, adult and child. By recognising ego-states, transactional analysis attempts to identify how individuals communicate, and how this can be changed.

Transpersonal psychology

Transpersonal psychology means "beyond the personal" and seeks to discover the person who transcends an individual's body, age, appearance, culture etc.

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