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Humanizing psychotherapy

Cooper, Mick (2007) Humanizing psychotherapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 37 (1). pp. 11-16. ISSN 0022-0116

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Abstract

The essence of the humanistic and existential approaches to psychotherapy is a commitment to conceptualizing, and engaging with people in a deeply valuing and respectful way. Hence, within these approaches, there is an emphasis on viewing clients' behaviors as meaningful and freely chosen; and there is also a belief that clients have the capacity to become aware of the reasons for their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Phenomenological exploration is thus a central element of many existential and humanistic psychotherapies, and this requires psychotherapists to put to one side their therapeutic techniques and interpretative assumptions and to listen to clients in an in-depth, non-analytical way. From an existential and humanistic standpoint, however, this valuing of human beings also extends to the psychotherapist's own humanity. Hence, within these approaches, there is an emphasis on the psychotherapists themselves being genuine in the psychotherapeutic encounter, and being willing to meet their clients at a level of "relational depth." Existential and humanistic practices may not be appropriate for all clients and all psychotherapists, but it is concluded that the principles underlying these approaches are of universal relevance to the practice of psychotherapy.