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Comparing Humanistic Existential Psychotherapy with other Approaches

Comparing Humanistic Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Existential and humanistic therapies share various characteristics and are fairly different at the same time. However, the approaches utilize various techniques in the research methodologies, intervention strategies, therapeutic goals, and case conceptualization. They emphasize focusing on clients instead of the symptoms and understanding human experiences (Krug, 2019). Psychological issues (including substance abuse disorders) are seen as the consequence of shortfalls in making self-directed, meaningful, and authentic choices. Therefore, interventions under these methodologies focus on increasing the self-awareness levels among the clients and enhancing self-understanding.

Existential and humanistic methodologies share the belief that individuals have the ability to choose and have self-awareness. Nonetheless, they come to this shared belief from divergent theories. The humanistic perspective asserts that human nature is essentially good, with the ability to make choices, make the best choices in others’ interests and self, and maintain meaningful and healthy relationships (Hoffman et al., 2019). Therefore, in this approach, therapists focus on self-actualizations and growth instead of alleviating or curing disorders. From this perspective, the intervention focuses on the conscious process instead of the past causes and unconscious processes. However, just like the existential method, it affirms that individuals have an inborn capacity for responsibly directing themselves.

Humanistic therapies affirm that the true source of problems is not one’s true self. In this regard, therapeutic relationships serve as vehicles of contexts in which the psychological growth processes are enhanced. Humanistic therapists try to create accepting and welcoming therapeutic relationships (Krug, 2019). The therapist trusts that a client will drive himself/herself to self-actualization in a healthy direction. Existentialist therapists focus more on helping individuals to find philosophical meanings in the face of anxiety by choosing to act and think responsibly and authentically.

The existential therapy approach asserts that people’s primary problems are death, despair, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. Therefore, this technique will influence how I approach patients in clinical practice, for example, by enhancing free will, authenticity, love, and creativity. The primary aim of my approaches in this school will be to enable individuals to live meaningful and satisfying lives in the face of suffering and uncertainty (Schneider, 2019). It will also help me practice therapy, recognizing that human influence is shaped by luck, culture, and biology. Therefore, I will not overlook outside forces while analyzing how individuals can improve their quality of life.

The Behavioural approach focuses on altering unwanted behavior. The changes can be achieved through desensitization, reinforcements, and rewards. The approach is based on the idea that past experiences enable individuals to learn various behaviors. Therefore, it is possible to recondition or unlearn these responses without analyzing past events to establish the reason for the exhibited behaviors (Eelen, 2018). The approach works with addictions, phobias, and obsessive and compulsive behavior. For example, a person whose fear of germs causes him/her to wash hands excessively can be taught relaxing techniques, for example, not washing hands after touching a shopping trolley.

The primary philosophy is the behavioral approach is that behavior is a consequence of learning. Individuals are both producers and the product of the environment. However, not a set of unifying behavior assumptions can integrate all procedures existing in the behavioral domain. The primary focus while utilizing this approach is on an overt objective evaluation of therapeutic outcome, development of specific treatment plans, precise specification of treatment goals, and overt behavior (Eelen, 2018). The learning theory provides essential principles used in administering interventions. While normal behavior is a conscience of imitation and reinforcement, abnormal behavior emanates from faulty learning.

The role of a counselor in this approach varies and includes facilitation, reinforcement, and consultation. The counselor assumes an active role and may supervise other individuals within the client’s surroundings to enable jail achievement. Adopters of the approach formulate the desired behaviors, while operant and respondent conditioning counselors are more prescriptive and directive in their techniques. The primary focus is the elimination of adaptive behaviors and learning effective behaviors. Clients are active participants in establishing treatment goals and assessing how the goals are met. The main techniques used in the approach are coaching, rehearsals, cognitive restructuring, modeling, reinforcement, desensitization, eye movement, flooding, relaxation methods, and systematic desensitization.

Live Case Consultation Psychotherapy Video

In the video, the narrators explain an experience with a client who was going through a tough time. The client’s main issue was that he did not feel alive about his life. He had been in therapy before, got in touch with anger, and feels constricted in his life. The humanistic-existential approach was necessary because it focuses on self-actualization and growth instead of alleviating or curing disorders. From this perspective, the intervention focuses on the conscious process instead of the past causes and unconscious processes. Bugental (2009) asserts that searching is the life force in action, and the client, in this case, is trying to find his way in life.

If the behavioral approach had been used in this case, the expected outcome would have focused on changing the client’s attitudes toward life. For example, rather than being reserved and constrained, the approach would have taught the client to be outgoing with a positive outlook on life. The approach would have primarily focused on changing how the client perceives life. For example, rather than picking out the negative events in life and getting frustrated, he could be taught to pick encouraging events or outcomes and spread them to other aspects of life.


Bugental, J. [PsychotherapyNet]. (2009). Live case consultation psychotherapy video. [Video]. YouTube. v=Zl8tVTjdocI&ab_channel=PsychotherapyNet

Eelen, P. (2018). Behavior Therapy and Behaviour Modification Background and Development. Psychologica Belgica, 58(1), 184.

Hoffman, L., Serlin, I. A., & Rubin, S. (2019). The history of existential‐humanistic and existential‐integrative therapy. The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy, 235-246.

Krug, O. T. (2019). Existential‐humanistic and existential‐integrative therapy: Method and Practice. The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy, 257-266.

Schneider, K. J. (2019). Existential‐humanistic and existential‐integrative therapy: Philosophy and theory. The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy, 247-256.


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Understanding the strengths of each type of therapy and which type of therapy is most appropriate for each patient is an essential skill of the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. In this Assignment, you will compare humanistic-existential therapy to another psychotherapeutic approach. You will identify the strengths and challenges of each approach and describe expected potential outcomes.

Comparing Humanistic Existential Psychotherapy with other Approaches

Comparing Humanistic Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

To prepare:

Review the humanistic-existential psychotherapy videos in this week’s Learning Resources.

Reflect on humanistic-existential psychotherapeutic approaches.

Then, select another psychotherapeutic approach to compare with humanistic-existential psychotherapy. The approach you choose may be one you previously explored in the course or one you are familiar with and especially interested in.


In a 2- to 3-page paper, address the following:

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.

Note: The School of Nursing requires that all papers submitted include a title page, introduction, summary, and references. The Sample Paper provided at the Walden Writing Center provides an example of those required elements (available at… ). All papers submitted must use this formatting.

Required Readings (click to expand/reduce)

American Psychiatric Association. (2022). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed., text rev.).… “Culture and Psychiatric Diagnosis”

Nichols, M., & Davis, S. D. (2020). The essentials of family therapy (7th ed.). Pearson. Chapter 7, “Experiential Family Therapy”

Wheeler, K. (Ed.). (2020). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based practice (3rd ed.). Springer Publishing. Chapter 6, “Humanistic-Existential and Solution-Focused Approaches to Psychotherapy”

Required Media (click to expand/reduce)

Grande, T.  (2019, January 9). Theories of counseling – Existential therapy [Video]. YouTube.

PsychotherapyNet. (2009, June 29). James Bugental live case consultation psychotherapy video [Video]. YouTube. 

ThinkingallowedTV. (2010, September 20). James Bugental: Humanistic psychotherapy (excerpt) – A thinking allowed DVD w/ Jeffrey Mishlove [Video]. YouTube. 


Biophily2. (2016, October 4). Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Carl Rogers – Existential psychology II (1962) [Video]. YouTube. 

Bugental, J. (2008). Existential-humanistic psychotherapy [Video].…


The Psychology Podcast. (2021, Aug 30). Irvin Yalom- Existential psychotherapy. [Video]. YouTube.

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