A Critical Assessment of the Humanistic Model of Psychopathology

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Davies Bhugra relates that the humanistic model was developed and sought to emphasize human nature as essentially positive and valued choices and purpose in life (92). Its basic assumption is that what is being considered normal or abnormal is subjective to and dependent on the therapist or clinician’s own frame of reference. The therapist’s goal then is to provide opportunities for the client to achieve his optimum potential by letting him be himself on the way to self-discovery (103).There are various approaches to the humanistic model and for the purposes of this presentation, includes Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy, George Kelly’s personal construct psychology, Eric Berne’s transactional analysis, Abraham Maslow’s transpersonal psychotherapy, and Victor Frankl’s existential approach.Rogers is considered to be the founder of contemporary counseling. His person-centered therapy espouses that individuals are capable of finding solutions to their problems by providing a counseling environment in which they are given unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding (93).It is assumed that each person has a natural tendency to better himself- to expand, to extend, to become autonomous, develop, and mature – in the process of self-actualization (94). Self-actualization is a state in which the person has a positive self-regard or self-value and it is open to continuous change.As a child, the person receives love and affection from significant persons in his life and develops a positive self-regard and this way the self-actualizing tendency is promoted. However, there are times in his development that he receives love and affection only when he pleases adults or behaves according to their notion of what is appropriate and desirable. This then develops conditional self-regard in the person and the goal to self-actualize is being blocked or distorted.Rogers believes that psychopathology is a result of the tension between the person’s inherent desire to attain self-actualization or growth and the conditional self-regard that he received from others.