How Maslow’s hierarchy of needs influenced Person-Centred Counselling


During the time Carl Rogers was developing his therapy another psychologist called Abraham Maslow who in the 1960’s developed a theory called ‘Self Actualisation, he then developed an idea later know as Maslow’s Triangle often referred to as the Maslow hierarchy of needs.

Maslow and Rogers believed that human beings need certain conditions to be in place before they could reach their full potential and have fulfilled life.

Free Download: 5 Criticisms of Maslow’s Theory

To describe his idea he came up with that is now called the Maslow Pyramid.

At the bottom of the triangle was what he described as physiological needs such as, air, water, food, going to the toilet etc. Maslow believed that these were the basic elements that humans need to survive.


The second part of the pyramid is safety needs this means that humans feel safe and protected this usually means having somewhere to live.

Third on the triangle in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is love and belonging, this means having friendships, and a loving relationship with family or a partner, and could include having a physical relationship (a sexual relationship).

Self-esteem is the fourth part of the triangle and is about how people feel about themselves in the wider world being employed, doing an activity that they can feel is a personal achievement such as going to college, playing an instrument, or a hobby could be seen as building self-esteem.

The final part of the triangle, ‘the peak ‘is known as self-actualisation the best way of describing this to think of individuals like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, or  individuals who have overcome personal difficulties to achieve great things.

Free Download: 5 Criticisms of Maslow’s Theory

Carl Rogers adopted the self-actualisation concept and integrated it into the Person-Centred Approach. Rogers believed that as clients overcome barriers they move towards becoming a more fully functioning person by means of self-actualisation.

Remember the triangle works from the ground up and you cannot exchange one need for another, for example exchanging the need to breathe air for shelter, each level of the triangle must be met before progressing to the next level.