“The central hypothesis of this approach can be briefly stated. It is that the individual has within him or her self vast resources for self-understanding, for altering her or his self-concept, attitudes, and self-directed behavior—and that these resources can be tapped if only a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided,” –Carl Rogers, on unconditional positive regard
The graduate-level counseling program that I got my Master’s degree through at Lewis & Clark College has a very humanistic foundation. Humanistic psychology was developed by Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and several other pioneering psychologists in the mid-20th century. After decades of being dominated by the Victorian biases of Freud’s psychoanalysis and Skinner’s cold behaviorism*, the field of psychology was in dire need of some warmth and humanity.
There are several key tenets to humanistic psychology, including the idea that people are inherently good, that we are whole, complex people and we should strive to develop our best selves, and that a therapist’s role is to be supportive in these efforts while offering constructive tools the client can use. Also important is the concept of unconditional positive regard, in which a therapist wholly accepts a person as they are, and does not judge them no matter their mistakes or flaws. By offering this place of complete support, the client has the opportunity to see that they always have the potential to become better regardless of their past or present circumstances.