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Founder of Humanistic Psychology School of Thought

The Humanistic Psychology school of thought was developed in the mid-20th century as a reaction to behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers are often considered the founders or key figures of Humanistic Psychology.

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, is best known for his hierarchy of needs theory, which suggests that human behavior is motivated by a hierarchy of needs ranging from basic physiological needs to higher-level psychological needs for self-actualization.

Carl Rogers, another influential figure in Humanistic Psychology, developed client-centered therapy, emphasizing the importance of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness in the therapeutic relationship. Rogers believed in the innate goodness of individuals and their capacity for personal growth.

These two psychologists played crucial roles in shaping the Humanistic Psychology movement, which focused on the subjective experience of individuals, personal growth, and the realization of human potential.


Contributors of Humanistic Psychology School of Thought

In addition to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, several other psychologists have made significant contributions to the Humanistic Psychology school of thought. Some notable contributors include:

Rollo May:

An American existential psychologist, May emphasized the importance of personal responsibility, freedom, and the search for meaning in human existence. He integrated existentialist philosophy into humanistic psychology.

Clark Moustakas:

Moustakas was known for his work in phenomenology and humanistic psychology. He explored the concept of personal growth and self-actualization, emphasizing the importance of subjective experience.

Abraham H. Maslow:

Besides being a founding figure, Maslow made notable contributions through his hierarchy of needs theory, which identified different levels of human needs and motivations.

Carl R. Rogers:

As a key figure in Humanistic Psychology, Rogers developed client-centered therapy, highlighting the importance of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and authenticity in therapeutic relationships.

Charlotte Bühler:

A psychologist and therapist, Bühler focused on the study of human development and the importance of purpose and values in life. She explored the idea of life tasks and stages of development.

Gestalt psychologists (Fritz Perls, Laura Perls, and Paul Goodman):

While not exclusively aligned with humanistic psychology, the Gestalt approach, particularly in the work of Fritz and Laura Perls, emphasized holistic understanding, the importance of the present moment, and personal responsibility.

These contributors, among others, collectively shaped the Humanistic Psychology movement and enriched the understanding of human experience, personal growth, and the pursuit of meaning and fulfillment in life.

Focus of Humanistic Psychology School of Thought

Humanistic Psychology is a psychological perspective that emerged in the mid-20th century as a response to the limitations of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. It emphasizes the subjective experience of individuals, personal growth, and the realization of human potential. The key focuses of the Humanistic Psychology school of thought include:

Holistic Approach:

Humanistic psychologists emphasize the importance of viewing individuals as whole beings rather than reducing them to isolated behaviors or unconscious drives. They consider the interconnectedness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in understanding human experience.

Personal Responsibility:

Humanistic psychology places a strong emphasis on personal responsibility for one’s own actions and choices. It encourages individuals to take ownership of their lives and work towards self-actualization.


The concept of self-actualization, popularized by Abraham Maslow, is central to humanistic psychology. It refers to the process of realizing and fulfilling one’s potential, striving for personal growth, and becoming the best version of oneself.

Subjective Experience:

Humanistic psychologists value the subjective experience of individuals, emphasizing the importance of understanding how people perceive and interpret their own lives. This includes emotions, thoughts, and personal meaning.

Existential Concerns:

Existential themes, such as the search for meaning, freedom, and the inevitability of death, are often addressed in humanistic psychology. Psychologists like Rollo May integrated existentialist philosophy into their work, exploring how these existential concerns impact human behavior.

Positive Psychology:

While not exclusively within the realm of humanistic psychology, the movement has contributed to the development of positive psychology. Positive psychology focuses on strengths, virtues, and factors that contribute to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Client-Centered Therapy:

Carl Rogers, a key figure in humanistic psychology, developed client-centered therapy, which places importance on the therapeutic relationship, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. The goal is to create a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore their feelings and experiences.

Overall, Humanistic Psychology seeks to understand and enhance the human experience by recognizing the positive aspects of individuals, promoting personal growth, and emphasizing the significance of conscious awareness and personal choice.

Methodology of Humanistic Psychology School of Thought

Humanistic Psychology is known for its distinctive approach to methodology, which often involves qualitative and subjective methods to explore the richness of individual experiences. While it is not characterized by a rigid set of research methods, humanistic psychologists employ a variety of approaches to gain insight into the complexities of human behavior. Some common methodologies associated with the Humanistic Psychology school of thought include:

Qualitative Research:

Humanistic psychologists often favor qualitative research methods that allow for an in-depth exploration of individual experiences. Methods such as interviews, case studies, and phenomenological research are used to gather detailed, subjective information about a person’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions


Phenomenology is a philosophical and research approach that focuses on the study of conscious experience from the perspective of the individual. Humanistic psychologists use phenomenological methods to understand how people interpret and make meaning of their experiences.

Case Studies:

Case studies involve an in-depth examination of a single individual or a small group. Humanistic psychologists may use case studies to explore the unique aspects of a person’s life, emphasizing the individual’s subjective experience and personal growth.

Existential Analysis:

Drawing on existential philosophy, humanistic psychology may incorporate existential analysis as a method to explore issues related to meaning, freedom, and responsibility. This approach often involves exploring existential concerns through dialogue and reflection.

Self-Report Measures:

While quantitative methods are not as common in humanistic psychology, self-report measures are sometimes used to gather individuals’ perceptions of their own experiences. Questionnaires or scales may be designed to capture subjective states, attitudes, or beliefs.

Therapeutic Observation:

Humanistic psychology, particularly through the work of Carl Rogers and client-centered therapy, places importance on the therapeutic relationship. Therapeutic observation involves observing and understanding individuals in a counseling or therapeutic context to gain insights into their subjective experiences.

It’s important to note that the humanistic approach values the uniqueness of each individual, and as a result, research methods are often tailored to capture the richness and complexity of personal experiences. The emphasis on subjectivity and qualitative exploration distinguishes humanistic psychology from more quantitative and behaviorist approaches in psychology.

Role of Humanistic Psychology School of Thought in psychology

The Humanistic Psychology school of thought has played a significant role in shaping the field of psychology by introducing alternative perspectives and emphasizing the subjective aspects of human experience. Some key contributions and roles of Humanistic Psychology include:

Focus on Subjectivity:

Humanistic psychology shifted the focus from external behaviors and unconscious processes to the subjective experiences and inner lives of individuals. This emphasis on subjective states, personal meaning, and the uniqueness of each person’s experience broadened the scope of psychological inquiry.

Holistic Approach:

Humanistic psychology promotes a holistic understanding of individuals, considering the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. This holistic approach has influenced various areas of psychology, encouraging a more integrated and comprehensive view of human functioning.

Positive Psychology:

Humanistic psychology laid the groundwork for the development of positive psychology. Positive psychology focuses on the study of positive aspects of human experience, such as well-being, happiness, and strengths. The humanistic perspective’s emphasis on personal growth and self-actualization contributed to the positive psychology movement.

Therapeutic Approaches:

The humanistic approach has had a profound impact on psychotherapy. Client-centered therapy, developed by Carl Rogers, is one of the influential therapeutic approaches within humanistic psychology. This client-centered approach emphasizes empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness in the therapeutic relationship.

Emphasis on Personal Growth:

Humanistic psychology emphasizes the inherent potential for personal growth and self-improvement in individuals. This focus has influenced counseling, coaching, and educational practices, encouraging approaches that support individuals in realizing their full potential.

Existential Concerns:

Humanistic psychology has brought attention to existential themes such as the search for meaning, freedom, and personal responsibility. These existential concerns have become important considerations in understanding human behavior and well-being.

Alternative to Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis:

Humanistic psychology emerged as a response to the limitations of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. It provided an alternative perspective that emphasized the positive aspects of human nature, free will, and the importance of conscious experience.

Impact on Education:

The humanistic perspective has influenced educational philosophy and practices, advocating for learner-centered approaches that recognize the uniqueness of each student and promote personal growth and self-directed learning.

While humanistic psychology may not be as dominant as some other psychological perspectives, its contributions have had a lasting impact on the field, shaping the way psychologists approach the study of human behavior, well-being, and personal development.

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