The Humanistic Perspective


 It is seen that how Sri Lanka has been continuously suffering from either natural disasters or man-made traumas such as war and terrorist attacks over the past few decades. There are many instances where Sri Lankans had got united in such calamities to help each other despite ethnic, cultural or any other differences. Time is back once again to stand together as one nation to face existing difficulties at present. 

 It goes without saying that we as Sri Lankans are financially affected, and there can be stressful psychological and physiological reactions even among ordinary citizens. The restoration of peace and security in the country is indeed vital, but what is much needed at the moment is to care for each other respecting humanistic qualities. Frustration-aggression hypothesis is a well-known social psychological theory which is highly discussed worldwide under different circumstances. Being frustrated might result in aggression as per the theory, and the atmosphere should be set so that people can live without Frustration. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a familiar theory to all of us which highlights how important it is to fulfil the basic needs to reach the higher needs. Setting a suitable environment as such is vital for people to be satisfied and free them from being frustrated.

 We are born human beings, but what is much required is to act as true human beings.  It should be borne in mind that human beings are not as passive as other living creatures who only respond to mere stimuli; in contrast, human beings act upon stimuli after a complex intellectual process; and that is why we are called human beings and said to be more intelligent than others. But unfortunately, some get easily provoked and tend to stand against others without being much concerned about its repercussions.

 Among different approaches in counselling psychology, the Humanistic Approach is considered much important and effective as one’s humanistic nature itself can heal someone to a certain extent. As per the ‘Humanistic Psychologists’, it is said that no other therapy would be needed if the therapist can approach the client from a humanistic perspective. Inspiring figures in world history such as Mother Teresa, Florence Nightingale, and Mahatma Gandhi were some of the true leaders who were strongly driven by humanistic traits. As per the Humanistic Approach, it consists of certain characteristics such as genuineness, empathy and Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR).  If the survival of the human race is expected, it is much needed to nurture such qualities within us; and it is the high time for us to stick to humanistic traits as much as we could.

 Genuineness refers to being real, authentic and genuine with the client as a therapist. Such traits should not be only confined to professional therapists as ordinary people can also nurture such qualities in dealing with others. You can determine how real, authentic and genuine you are in presence of others.

 Empathy refers to one’s ability to sense what other persons feel and experience from within their frame of reference. You tend to perceive the person from his/ her perspective rather than your own. You do not wish to be inflicted and hurt by others; likewise, others do not expect the same from you.

 Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) is said to be another characteristic that should be nurtured by therapists when dealing with clients. UPR is something that everybody needs to nurture as human beings. It is seen how people are labelled by some based on skin colour, religion, caste, class and many more.  People being labelled under such shallow criteria undoubtedly leads to discrimination and prejudice. UPR refers to one’s capability to perceive someone without being concerned about his/ her social, cultural, religious and financial background.

 This is indeed a period where we need to take care of each other and respect each other accepting human diversity. Let us be genuine, and non-judgmental and let us show empathy towards others. As psychologists mention, the Humanistic Approach itself is therapeutic and lets us heal each other. 

By Dr. Ashoke Priyadarshana – Psychologist