ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How can the humanistic perspective be useful in understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Updated on October 21, 2016

The human response to traumatic stress is one of the most significant public health issues in modern medicine and psychiatry. Traumatic stressful events and the subsequent way how individuals and groups deal with them, play a crucial role in the development of not only PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) but also of many, if not all other mental and somatic disorders.

There has been a great debate about core issues in defining PTSD with disagreements about the nature of stressful events that act sufficiently traumatic to precipitate PTSD, with different views on the characteristic symptoms that follow exposure to traumatic stress and their subjective meaning, with different ideas about how best to prevent and treat PTSD and with different proposals about what kind of compensation should be given to the individuals by society. In a number of recent studies on psychiatry, PTSD is indicated as a highly prevalent and disabling disease, the source of huge suffering, commonly associated with other mental disorders and somatic diseases, and growing the public health burden (Stein et al., 2011). From the behavior perspective, PTSD is defined as a disorder of reactivity, which manifests itself as characteristic maladaptive behavior during interactions with the interpersonal or physical environment (Friedman, 2007). Although PTSD is often linked with the Vietnam combat veteran, PTSD is the term applied to psychological and emotional problems that develop as the result of experiencing any serious, traumatic event; including natural or accidental disasters or deliberately caused disasters, such as rape, assault, kidnapping, torture or combat. In our research, we are going to concentrate on the humanistic approach to PTSD as a mainstream approach to deal with traumatic stress. Thus, the paper aims to answer the following research question: ‘How can the humanistic perspective be useful in understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?”

Actually, trauma therapy is a complex biological, psychological and social project that unfolds in stages over time and may involve many different modalities to reach a stage of optimal recovery. In terms of proven efficacy, humanistic approach has a long tradition in PTSD treatment. What makes this approach work in PTSD treatment is the personal responsibility of humanistic therapists, who understand their clients’ anxieties and experiences, guide them through their struggles and provide a supporting environment, in which their clients can grow and rehabilitate their injured emotions. Symptoms of PTSD cause considerable distress and can significantly interfere with social, educational and occupational functioning. People suffering from PTSD survived a terrifying experience that left them feeling helpless and frightened. Though the trauma may have occurred months or years ago, the survivor continues to have problems because they keep re-experiencing the traumatic event, or avoid stimuli associate with the event, or get generally “numb” to all feelings. In addition to the emotional component of these devastating events, many survivors also have other physical problems that were produced by the trauma itself that will affect their functioning for a lifetime.

According to humanistic theory, the most important agents of therapeutic change are the personality of the therapist and the therapist-client relationship. The following are therapeutic guidelines that emphasize the development of the personal qualities of a healer in the therapist and the transformative potential of the healing relationship. The ability to face mortality can lead to creativity and boldness in the face of death; life-changing events can be transformative; trauma involves the whole person; normalcy is socially constructed; and the human condition means living with uncertainty. Therefore, a humanistic approach to trauma requires from therapists the ability to confront one's own fears of death or darkness; the ability to create life-affirming connections; creativity and communication; development of strengths in self and other; personal psychological and spiritual maturity.

Humanistic therapy recognizes the relational aspect of life and therapy, helping clients to become aware of their experiences, potentialities, and means of interaction with the therapist. The nature of the relationship may differ from more classical kinds of therapy: for instance the existential therapist functions as a person in a meaningful encounter with another person. This is particularly pertinent to traumatized clients, as case examples concerned with trauma illustrate how the development of the therapeutic relationship significantly contribute to resolution of thematic issues, acknowledging that the dynamic process of recovery from a trauma can only occur within the context of a meaningful therapeutic relationship. Roth and Batson (Roth and Batson, 1993) maintain that there is a distinctly humane understanding of the role of the therapist as someone to bear witness to the trauma, to be a real partner in the re-experiencing of the trauma, and of course to provide a safe environment in which to do the trauma work. With relevance to humanistic approach, it is highlighted that existential therapists generally believe that effective therapy evolves out of the therapist’s willingness to utilize the self to facilitate relationship, action and reflection experiences that help the client work through and struggle with the ultimate issues of human life during the therapeutic process.

Conclusion

To conclude, the humanistic perspective can be very useful in understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The humanistic approach to trauma can bring human beings closer to truth and humanity. It does this by supporting trauma survivors in their confrontation with fundamental existential issues and by helping them move to new levels of psychological and spiritual growth. From this perspective, a human being is inseparable from their social context. People can only heal from trauma if supported as whole beings and provided a safe channel to explore their world and reconnect with themselves. The responsibility of humanistic therapists therefore ultimately lies in understanding their clients’ anxieties and experiences, in understanding their post-traumatic reactions and how to cope with them.

References

Friedman, M.J., Keane, T.M. & Resick, P.A. (2007). Handbook on PTSD: Science and practice. New York & London: The Guilford Press.

Stein, D.J., Blanco, C. & Friedman, M.J. (2011). Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Roth, S. & Batson, R. (1993). The creative balance: The therapeutic relationship and thematic issues in trauma resolution. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 6(2) 159-177.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)