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Life Coach Application of Maslow’s Hierarchy Provides Relationship Advice

May 26, 2012

A real Life Coach should not rely only on personal awareness or intuition but also be well equipped with leading behavioral theories and paradigms. One of the more successful insightful approaches to people’s relationships is outlined in Abraham Maslow’s ideas about the psychological needs of humans.

It could be a worthwhile practice to listen to a client’s case and draw recommendations for her/him/them in a form of ‘to do list’ based on the gap between the real life story of ‘relationship’ and the expected theoretical way of handling ‘relationship’. A life coach that understands application of the theory will definitely assist clients to trigger and activate affiliation instincts and motivational forces to invest in relationship.

Life Coach’s Relationship Advice needs not to change people, as in psychotherapy, but to be the catalysis factor behind the the client’s evolution or rejuvenation of mutual attraction, affection and the need to see the spouse as a close ally; not only a spectator but a shareholder. Much of the needed ingredients can extracted from ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy’, that reviles the motivational foundation of each of us. The theory postulates that human behavior is influenced by a hierarchy of five types of needs or motives. It is important to follow the original paradigm which indicated that the lowest level needs must be satisfied before people can be motivated by higher level goals.

The basic human needs, called ‘The Physiological’, explains our constant dependency and search for food, water, oxygen, activity, sleep and sex. In counseling it is easy to find that unfulfilled sexual needs and desires are often play a major part in many relationship issues. No wonder therefore that a practical   relationship advice to any couple is to assess their adult interaction and determine how both of them are satisfying their sexual needs. The motivation to achieve harmony here is fundamental for each partner and therefore it is easy to predict that lack of chemistry here would not allow to a mature relationship last for long or survive but suffer permanent tension.

The next class of motivational factors to be discussed is ‘The Safety Needs’ which are naturally linked to any meaningful relationship. This is about everybody’s expectation to be cared for as a child and have a secure fortune as successful adult. Countless songs and stories share the same theme: each wants to assure or impress the partner about his or her contribution for care and devotion as well as for financial creativity, strength and stability. Many relationship cracks can be explained as the result of  one partner’s fear that the other one is not able to contribute either a sufficient emotional care or financial stability.

Intimacy is not sex; it is a deeper sense of bonding and sharing, characterized as ‘Belonging and Love’  by Maslow. This is the next class of needs which explains our motivation to find not only a sex partner but also a close friend; a lover. Affectionate nonsexual relationships are as important as the sexual ones since they fuel the relationship along the time. This need is shown very early in the mating process, as any dating can verify.

Most relationships would crack and not hold for a long time if each one’s need to be respected as a useful and honorable individual would not be met. ‘The Need for Self Esteem’ as the theory named, is a powerful motivating force that attracts couples at the very early stages of their quaintness. Many  couples of ’empty nest’ families go into crisis once one of the parents claims that there is no more respect for his self esteem.

‘Self Actualization’ is the most powerful need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy. It is easy to assess that children and family’s wealth are the common major areas that allow each member of the union a fulfillment of this need. In healthy family life each partner reaches his or her full potential as a result of the relationship and the spouse’s help.

Exploring together how to enhance relationship and intensify life satisfaction and pleasure beyond and above sex and money is probably one of the most prescribed relationship advice for couples above their forties.

To summarize, Maslow’s theory about our basic needs is a great practical tool for the field of  Relationship Advice and Marriage Counseling. A good counselor must know and understand ‘the business of human behavior’; this theory is a great contributor for this effort.


Dr. Joseph Abraham, Life Coach. Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 and


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