How might the humanistic theorists (Rogers, Maslow, and Frankl) respond to this question from a potential client: "I have been a patient of Dr. Steve Smith, who is a psychoanalyst. He feels that I need three years of therapy to explore my id-ego conflicts (He said I need to regress back to my childhood repressions, whatever that means). I am feeling somewhat depressed, and feel that no one likes me. I think I am too much of a loner, although I value my privacy a lot. Can you help me, or should I stay with Dr. Smith?"
A psychoanalyst such as Carl Rogers would most certainly be able to help this client. He would most likely advise the client to cease his therapy with Dr Smith in favor of a more humanistic approach. His reasons for this would stem from the client's depression. Rogers found that many patients who are subjected to a more Freudian-style psychoanalysis, often experience strong emotional feelings such as anger, sadness and depression. Freud would have the patient believe it is a result of the "id-ego" conflicts and from unresolved childhood issues and issues with the subconscious. A lack of perspective from Dr Smith,the therapist, not seeing the patient's view and blaming transference for the patient's depression, prevents effective treatment. Rogers would contend that the therapist needs to recognize the patient's own contribution to his therapy. Rather than an imposition of the therapist's opinion, Rogers recognizes the need to empower the patient himself.
Furthermore, with a patient who feels that "no one likes me" Rogers would recognize a conflicted personality where conditional positive regard is prominent and this patient - although Rogers never liked the connotation of the word "patient" inferring that clients are sick- needs an approach that will refocus his attention and center his efforts on himself, increasing self-worth. The patient can then concentrate on meeting his own needs rather than feeling compelled to meet the expectations of others. The patient, or client, values his privacy but feels that being "a loner" does not meet other people's standards and so the client feels that this is a problem that must be resolved which is no doubt adding to his depression.
Self actualization is a major proponent of Maslow's theories and he would agree with Rogers that, in order for this client to be fulfilled, personal growth needs to take place, again emphasizing the client's needs and not the therapist's overriding judgment. This client needs to move past the stage of satisfying others' expectations before he can become fulfilled. The fact that the client seems to have no direction would also have Frankl recommending a change of therapist. Frankl proposes that those possible childhood traumas that the client thinks - or Dr Smith thinks- are repressed need to be accepted as part of the person as a whole which will then allow the client to adopt a different attitude. With a better attitude, he will be able to cope or manage any of his emotions and move forward towards a more complete existence.
Humanistic theorists would advise this client to ask him or herself whether he/she wanted to continue with Dr. Smith. At the heart of humanistic theory is faith, regard for the patient, and a genuine appreciation for his or her feelings. Rather than lecture the patient, a humanistic therapist would exercise empathy and ask the client what he or she is feeling. Much of the therapy is directed by the patient, so a humanistic approach would involve asking the patient what he or she wanted in the therapeutic work.
In addition, a humanistic approach would involve healing through helping the patient become more self-actualized in the here and now. Rather than concentrating on the past, humanistic therapy concentrates on the present and helps the client move towards embracing his or her strengths. Rather than criticizing the patient for being shy, the therapist would help the patient develop a sense of self-worth and understand the value of being alone. The therapist might help the patient value his or her need for alone time. In addition, the therapist might help the patient build on this strength by developing the practice of meditation or another practice that uses the patient's strengths for healing. In the process, the patient would likely decide to cease working with Dr. Smith.