It is rare to encounter a self-actualized person in therapy, more often the presentation is of
a person who is trying to self-actualize. To assist with this process there are five areas that a therapist may focus on to help a client progress towards being self-actualized. The first is helping the person be open to all experiences, both positive and negative; individuals who deny negative emotions are unable to reach the second part of self-actualization because they are spending excess energy “trying” to be happy. When an emotion takes effort it occupies emotional resources and keeps a person from living in the here-and-now (i.e., the immediate present). The here-and-now is the second part of becoming self-actualized; this is helping the person live in the moment, raising awareness of how one is feeling right now, recognizing and accepting it. This process moves the person away from focusing on what happened in the past or being anxious about what the future holds, and instead just being and experiencing now. The third task is working with clients to trust their feelings about their choices; again this is predicated on the previous two steps. A person must accept negative feelings, be aware of them in the moment, and then trust to act on these feelings instead of ignoring or suppressing them. People cannot choose wrong for themselves; any choice they make is the right choice in the moment based on available information, which is why awareness of immediate feelings is important.
Most people stop therapy around the second step, it is rare to get to the third, and the fourth and fifth steps are the rarest to see as presenting issues to work on in session. The fourth part of self-actualization is creativity. To continue to integrate aspects of self a person must move beyond their comfort zone and begin taking risks. It is through risk taking that they have new experiences and can further process and integrate aspects of self through examining how they react to new situations and sensations. The last part of becoming self-actualized is living a fulfilled life. A person who reaches this point demonstrates contentment with their life and actively seeks out new experiences and challenges to continue growth. This seeking out of new experiences is the recognition that the self-actualized person is not actualized period, but is always becoming, developing and growing.