Humanistic psychology is a perspective in psychology that came to prominence in the middle of the 20th century as a result of a shifting emphasis in manufacturing from primary and secondary sectors (agriculture, mining, construction, and so on) to the tertiary sector (any sort of providing of services). It uses a holistic approach to existence by investigating free will, creativity, and human potential; it also believes that people are inherently good. Many of its ideas have been adopted and expanded upon by spirituality.
Humanistic therapy is a type of psychology that includes different psychotherapeutic approaches, such as gestalt therapy – a form of psychotherapy that puts its emphasis on the here-and-now as a form of treatment; holistic health, sensitivity training, and marital and family therapies are all considered humanistic therapies as well.
The intent of humanistic psychology is to focus on more than just the medical model of psychology so as to approach patients from a non-pathology point of view. This is often achieved by the therapist by underemphasizing pathological portions of a patient’s life in order to focus on the healthier aspects.
Empathy is one of the most crucial aspects of humanistic psychology because without being able to see the world through the patient’s eyes, the therapist is forced to apply an external frame of reference to the patient. If empathy is not achieved, the therapist no longer understands the actions and thoughts of a patient as the patient would, but rather purely as a therapist, defeating the goal of humanistic psychology. Without an empathic approach to the therapy, the sessions will never fully have their desired effect.