THE HUMANISTIC THERAPIES
The humanistic therapies are a "family" of therapy approaches that view each person as having a unique story and way of moving forwards that embraces freedom of choice. Humanistic therapies prize your authenticity and ablility to create your own meaningful "self" and life. They aim to help you develop your potential and adaptivity, and to become more creatively and fully alive.
Humanistic therapies draw on existential philosophy. They address what it means to exist as a human being and the freedom and responsibility we have to shape our lives. Rather than pursuing an unattainable goal of pure happiness, the humanistic therapies acknowledge and welcome the difficult givens of life that we all face (including the therapist), such as anxiety, aloneness, and fear of the unknown. They explore the whole of you, not just your thoughts and behaviours but also your senses, body, identity, spirituality, memories, fantasies, dreams, and values.
Humanistic therapists like me are often described as real, authentic, down-to-earth, warm, honest, empathic, and affirmative. I work phenomenologically, meaning I don't impose my way of thinking on you and cannot be the authority on what it is best for you to think, feel, or do. You will discover the right way forward for yourself within the holding space of the therapeutic relationship as you become better acquainted with how you uniquely experience things.
I integrate two of the humanistic approaches: Gestalt therapy and Existential therapy. Depending on your needs and goals, we might use one or both approaches in different sessions or at different points in the same session.
Gestalt therapy is a holistic and experiential approach that focuses on the present moment and the whole person. We work together to increase your self-awareness and explore how you relate to yourself, others, and the world around you.
This approach views your awareness of how you experience things here-and-now (rather than why) as key to positive change. It views you as constantly influenced by and influencing the people around you, and so can help you understand your relationship patterns. It views you as always part of the world, physically and emotionally changing with your environment, and so it can help you realise your potential to be many things rather than a fixed "character".
In sessions we might explore what is happening for you in certain moments, paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, posture, behaviours, and so on. We might use creative techniques such as drawing, role-playing, or using a sandtray to help you access and re-integrate parts of yourself that you might have pushed away.
Existential therapy is a philosophical approach that explores human existence and the meaning of life. It examines the fundamental questions that we all face at some point, such as: Who am I? What gives life meaning? What is my purpose? By confronting these questions, we can develop a greater sense of freedom and responsibility to shape our own lives in a meaningful way.
One of the key ideas of existential philosophy is that as human beings we must confront our mortality. Embracing this reality is anxiety-provoking, and yet through it we can find meaning and purpose in the face of life's challenges. Existential philosophy also emphasises the importance of personal authenticity and living in a way that is true to yourself.
In sessions, we might explore your values and what they reveal about what is important to you. We might explore how authentically you feel you are living your life and experiment with new ways of being that align with your values and goals. We might use different types of expression (dialogue, metaphor, journaling) to identify your patterns and beliefs that keep you from facing existential realities such as self-responsibility and freedom of choice.