Homelessness is a multidimensional issue involving socio-economic, political, psychological and health factors. According to US statistics, there are 580,466 homeless people as of 2020. There are three kinds of homelessness; visible, hidden and those at risk of homelessness. Visible homeless refers to rough sleeping where most people in this category are housed in emergency accommodation. Hidden homeless refers to involuntary sharing of accommodation with family and friends, while people at risk of homeless refers to those whose probability of becoming homeless due to economic difficulties is high. This essay will feature visible homeliness. Homelessness can be explained within the concepts of two theories; existential and humanistic approach and psychodynamic theory.
Existential and Humanistic Approach
The theory focuses on the clients’ subjective experience where the significant themes are the client’s responsibility, self-awareness and free choice (Watson & Schneider, 2016). The humanistic approach views human nature as inherently good with the capability to maintain a healthy relationship and make choices in the best interest of oneself and others. The humanistic approach aims at guiding clients to free themselves from the shackles of assumptions that limit them from living a fuller life by encouraging growth and self-actualization.
The existentialist approach also aims at guiding people to find philosophical meaning when faced with extreme anxiety. According to the existential approach, the leading cause of homelessness is rooted in concern over isolation, despair, loneliness and death. People must come to terms with anxiety to live a fuller life; thus, one must constantly remake oneself by evaluating choices (Nilsson, 2018). The approach focuses on people not being able to make reasonable choices that create meaning in their lives. In dealing with homelessness, existential and humanistic approaches incorporate personal identity and promotion of interpersonal relationships to find purpose in life. The existential and humanistic approach also reflects how people perceive themselves and experience the world. The theory believes in the understanding of conscious thoughts to shape behaviour. According to the theory, homelessness can be regulated by believing in self-actualization by moving through the hierarchy of needs.
The psychodynamic theory focuses on the conscious and unconscious processes that influence individuals to behave in unique ways. The theory states that people respond to situations according to these processes; thus, homelessness can be defined using the root causes of these processes to address unique client issues. The psychodynamic perspective holds that conscious and unconscious psychological processes (Neal, 2018). The psychodynamic approach entails that behaviour has a fundamental genesis originating from the unconscious mind and that adult behaviour is rooted in these primary factors.
The theory states that most unconscious processes manifest as dysfunction and are attributed to childhood trauma and experiences. Psychodynamic theory shows a link between homelessness and mental health issues where the latter is a cause of homelessness. Most homeless people have at least one diagnosable personality disorder, such as impulsive and being borderline. The psychodynamic theory also views childhood trauma, neglect, abuse and broken attachments as the leading cause of homelessness. The shelter conditions may result in a trauma where people experienced physical and sexual abuse, thus associate home with traumatic experiences.
The psychodynamic theory also explores the problem of homeless people regarding their relationship to a physical space. The most common issue is an earlier reflection of the home being a highly troubled space where they did not feel accepted. Psychodynamic theory reflects that people may have an unconscious pull towards a familiar homeless environment and difficulty with structured situations. The psychodynamic theory encompasses repetition compulsion, where there is an unconscious tendency to gravitate towards a familiar concept (Smith, 2018). Homeless people may gravitate to life on the streets as they deem it as a common occurrence. The psychodynamic theory also views home detachment as a cause of homelessness where the relationship and emotional connectedness define home. Homelessness is thus a product of the internal experience of disconnection and rejection from society.
The Rationale for Best Fit
The existential and humanistic approach is the theory best fitted for addressing homelessness. People respond to homelessness depending on how they view the issue. The existential and humanistic approach assists people to free themselves from self-imposed limitations and understand their real-life objectives (Nilsson, 2018). On the other hand, the psychodynamic theory focuses on imposed elements by others, such as childhood trauma. Existential and humanistic theory believe that behaviour is determined by free will and choice instead of psychodynamic theory, where behaviour is pre-determined. Existential and humanistic approach motive is towards self-actualization and views people as just who they are instead of incorporating the unconscious mind. In the existential and humanistic approach, it is the responsibility of the homeless to try to solve their issue of homelessness since people are capable of making their own decisions and thus focuses on dealing with emotions in the present.
Homelessness is multidimensional, entailing socio-economic, political and psychological factors that make it difficult to understand. Homelessness can be viewed in terms of two approaches; existential and humanistic approach and psychodynamic approach. The existential and humanistic approach focuses on people’s responsibility, self-awareness and capability of making free choices. In contrast, the psychodynamic theory focuses on the impact of the unconscious process, such as childhood trauma, affecting adult decisions. The existential and humanistic approach is the best-fit approach in dealing with homeless people. It allows for self-actualization for people to make their own decisions to better their lives rather than insist on childhood trauma as a pre-determining factor.
Neal, B. (2018). Homelessness in mind. Psychodynamic Practice, 24(3), 223-234.
Nilsson, H. (2018). Existential social work and the quest for existential meaning and well-being: A conceptual framework. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 37(1), 64-76.
Smith, E. (2018). Why should we care? Psychodynamic theory and practice in counsellor preparation. The Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 11(1), 4.
Watson, J. C., & Schneider, K. (2016). Humanistic–existential theories.