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Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Humanistic-existential psychotherapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that applies both humanistic and existential therapy philosophies, including humanism, existentialism, and phenomenology (Wheeler, 2020). The psychotherapeutic approach is majorly focused on the humanistic aspects of an individual’s existence. As a combination of two therapeutic approaches, humanistic-existential psychotherapy leverages the individual’s experiences to promote change behaviors that lead to healing and growth. The humanistic part of the psychotherapeutic approach focuses on the human side of the individual that affects their perception of existence, including their self-actualization and fulfilment potential, self-awareness, and subjective experiences. The existential part of humanistic-existential psychotherapy focuses on their perception of their individual existence, such as responsibility, freedom of existence, and other existential concerns, including death and purposefulness (Heidenreich et al., 2021). For instance, the client, Joe, feels constricted, unhappy, and does not feel alive. This therapeutic approach is centred on developing a deep-meaning therapeutic relationship (Wheeler, 2020).

On the other hand, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on managing maladaptive thought patterns and behavioral issues (Heidenreich et al., 2021). CBT combines cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy to address emotional and behavioral issues. The approach is goal-oriented and aims to provide external resources for skill-building to strengthen an individual’s internal resources that are essential to coping. CBT, as a combined cognitive and behavioral therapeutical approach, focuses on identifying and changing disturbing thought processes that negatively impact the individual’s behavior and emotions and, thus, their social functioning. CBT adopts a more time-limited approach to providing therapy, enabling the patient to provide feedback on their experiences with the therapy.

Differences between the Mentioned Therapies and How These Differences Might Impact My Practice as a PMHNP

The main differences between humanistic-existential psychotherapy and cognitive therapy are notable based on the philosophical foundations, the therapeutic relationship, and the approach to treatment each psychotherapeutic approach employs. From a philosophical perspective, humanistic-existential psychotherapy is founded on the philosophies of humanism, existentialism, and phenomenology. It focuses on an individual’s subjective perspectives of the meaning of life, existence, and self-fulfilment. On the other hand, CBT is grounded on the philosophies of cognitive and behavioral psychology (Heidenreich et al., 2021). These philosophical foundations mean that CBT is based on the understanding and belief that thought processes influence behaviors and emotions.

On the other hand, the therapeutic relationship differences between humanistic-existential psychotherapy and CBT are based on the fact that the humanistic-existential psychotherapeutic approach prioritizes a therapeutic relationship that emphasizes unconditional empathy and positive support from the therapist (Wheeler, 2020). However, despite appreciating the importance of therapeutic relationships, the CBT approach focuses on the internal resources to guide behaviour change (Heidenreich et al., 2021).

Another notable difference is in the therapeutic approaches used to treat the patient. Humanistic-existential therapy follows a more non-structured approach to treatment and focuses mainly on creating a long-lasting, deep therapeutic relationship with the client as a vehicle toward behaviour change. It thus allows the client to be more open-minded in exploring their emotions and existential concerns. On the other hand, CBT follows structured strategies that focus on specific cognitive and behavioral problems. It aims to develop technical interventions to drive specific behavioral changes.

Consequently, understanding these differences between the two psychotherapeutic approaches can influence my practice as a PMHNP. I must select the approach based on the patient’s preferences, intended outcomes, and expected positive outcomes. It can also define how I relate with the clients during therapy as well as what to focus on during therapy sessions and treatment.

Why Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy Was Utilized, Why It Was the Treatment of Choice, and the Expected Potential Outcome if the Second Approach Had Been Used

The humanistic-existential psychotherapy was utilized because the patient notes that he does not feel alive in his life. Although he has been in therapy before, he still had issues with getting in touch with his feelings and felt constricted. He feels unhappy, incomplete, and frustrated and is trying to find fulfilment. The patient’s feelings of unhappiness with their life and lack of settlement and fulfilment create a case of humanistic and existential concerns. In this case, humanistic-existential psychotherapy was the treatment of choice because it would help develop a therapeutic relationship that would help the client explore his deep-seated feelings and life experiences. This would guide the patient in finding fulfilment in his life and making peace with his experiences. Humanistic/existential approaches in counselling effectively address issues in an individual’s life transition points, which helps them be less anxious about their future (Lubis et al., 2023). The expected potential outcomes if CBT was used would be an improved connection between the client’s current cognition and their current emotions, feelings, and behaviors.

Notably, the CBT approach provides more positive outcomes in the case as it employs a more technical approach to resolving the underlying cognitive factors leading to certain emotions and behaviors. The therapeutic relationship focused on humanistic-existential psychotherapy risks compromising the therapist’s connection with the client as the therapist may focus on the employed intervention while the client focuses on the relationship (Bland, 2022). Regardless, as a PMHNP, it is best to collaborate with the patient in planning for the intervention as it allows the entire treatment to be centered on the client’s preferences.

Why Each of My Supporting Sources Is Considered Scholarly

The articles by Bland (2022), Heidenreich et al. (2021), and Lubis et al. (2023) are considered scholarly as they follow a formal structure including using an abstract, an introduction, a review of literature, a presentation research method employed, a discussion, and a conclusion. The articles also have listed all cited and referenced sources and are context-specific. All of the articles also present quality and researched evidence that can be reviewed and critiqued against existing research evidence. The article by Wheeler (2020) is considered scholarly as it is curriculum-based and is a part of the course’s learning materials.


Bland, A. M. (2022). A 15-year progress report on the presence of humanistic/existential psychology principles in mental health outcome measurement: Thematic discourse and summative content analyses. Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Heidenreich, T., Noyon, A., Worrell, M., & Menzies, R. (2021). Existential approaches and cognitive behavior therapy: Challenges and potential. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 14(1), 209–234.

Lubis, S., Irfan Khalifaur, M., & Lesmana, G. (2023). Application of a humanistic, existential counselling approach to reducing adolescents’ anxiety for the spiritual future. Indonesian Journal of Advanced Research (IJAR), 2(8), 1209–1240.

Wheeler, K. (2020). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based practice (K. Wheeler, Ed.; 3rd ed.). Springer Publishing Company, LLC.


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Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Review the humanistic-existential psychotherapy videos in PsychotherapyNet. (2009, June 29). James Bugental’s live case consultation psychotherapy video links to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.
Reflect on humanistic-existential psychotherapeutic approaches
Briefly describe humanistic-existential psychotherapy and the second approach you selected.
Explain at least three differences between these therapies. Include how these differences might impact your practice as a PMHNP.
Focusing on one video you viewed, explain why humanistic-existential psychotherapy was utilized with the patient in the video and why it was the treatment of choice. Describe the expected potential outcome if the second approach had been used with the patient.
Support your response with specific examples from this week’s media and at least three peer-reviewed, evidence-based sources. Explain why each of your supporting sources is considered scholarly. Attach the PDFs of your sources.

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