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The main aim of any therapeutic process is to enhance the mental health of the client thereby enhance their overall functioning and well-being. Most important, therapy aims at meeting the client’s expectations by providing them with the right psychological tools and equipping them with ideal skills to overcome their symptoms (Proti, 2016).They are various forms of psychotherapy that can be used to help a client including existential therapy, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (CBT), schema therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) among others. This discussion will compare existential-humanistic therapy with CBT.
Summary of the selected approach
CBT usually resonates well with me since it’s a therapeutic approach that is goal-oriented and is based on the tenets that psychological distress usually emanates from autonomic negative though patterns. In essence, when a person encounters something in life like loss of a loved one, it’s the spontaneous negative thoughts that emerge from this event that will cause anxiety, PTSD or depression and not the event itself. As such, CBT targets to identify these autonomic negative thinking patterns and use numerous strategies to help clients know they exist and replace them with more realistic and objective ones thereby overcoming psychological distress (Cherry, 2020). My preference for CBT is anchored on the fact it can be applied to a variety of psychiatric disorders including PTSD, OCD, anxiety and depression. Additionally, it also actively involves both the client and the therapist so as to successfully meet the mutually established goals.
CBT versus existential-humanistic therapy
Existential-humanistic therapy traces its roots to the phenomenological and philosophy fields. It primarily focuses on creating the awareness of self and the individual capacities that a client possesses to confront numerous fundamental issues relating to existence, such as the meaning of life, loneliness, unavoidable death and freedom. This approach is anchored on the principle that the lenses that a person uses to view these existential aspects will be a major determinant of the dysfunctionality and functionality that they exhibit in their daily life (Proti, 2016). Existential psychotherapy is thus considered as dynamic when it comes to its approach towards life experiences. On the other hand, CBT is based on the principle that actions form an individual are usually a depiction of their interpretations and reactions to the environment. These reactions will usually be manifested through numerous motivational, behavioral, affective and cognitive deficits.
CBT is highly applicable to a lady with alcohol addiction because she has a low self-esteem. A lady that has grown up being told she is not beautiful because she is too thin and has a horse-like face, started taking alcohol at 16 since she wanted to join the group of popular girls in high school. She became an addict since she says alcohol gives her the confidence she needs to socialize and to belong to the cool group of the so called beautiful people. CBT will help this client to identify the negative feelings she has about her physical looks and replace them with more positive ones thereby help her to fight her substance abuse disorder. For instance, the client has beautiful hair and eyes and smile. Her eyes are so striking that they are the first thing that one notices when she enters the room. Helping her to focus on such positive body aspects instead of her flaws will go a long way in developing a positive body image thereby helping her to fight off addiction.
Existential-humanistic therapy is suitable for a client who has lost the dad recently after a short illness. Although she knew that she might lose the dad at some unknown time during her lifetime, this death becomes a source of deep anxiety. She starts living her life in fear since she perceives that life is meaningless as someone can just die suddenly without any warning. She no longer enjoys life due to this hopelessness and lives with high levels of anxiety. All this is due to the way she processes the internal conflicts that are raging within her and the decisions she makes as a result. Existential-humanistic therapy will help this client not only address the emotional issues they currently face after the sudden demise of the father but also to accept their fears about death. In essence, the therapist will help the client to achieve a balance between accepting that death is inevitable and still strive to live a fulfilling life despite this reality (Good Therapy, 2019). This will help the client to experience a sense of liberation and let go of despair that has been fueled by the meaningless and hopelessness feelings she currently experiences.
It is quite evident that CBT and existential-humanistic therapy differ in some aspects but they also have common points. This is because they both explore the present experiences of a client exhibiting psychological distress and do not deeply explore the causes of these disorders as is the case of psychoanalysis. Both therapeutic approaches use the phenomenological approach where experimental techniques are embraced as opposed to exploration of unconscious contents of the clients.
Cherry, K. (2020, June 13). What is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?
Good Therapy. (2019, November 11). Existential psychotherapy. Retrieved from
Proti, L. ( 2016). Aspects of existential psychotherapy in cognitive behavioral
approach. Romanian Journal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and
Hypnosis, 3(3), 11-18. http://www.rjcbth.ro/image/data/v3-
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