Assignment: Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

NRNP 6675 Assignment: Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Psychotherapy is a treatment used in patients with psychological and mental health disorders that affect their functioning ability. It is established as an effective psychological approach for a wide range of behavioral, psychological, and somatic disorders (Cook et al., 2017). It is thus duly considered as the main intervention in mental and somatic health care management. The purpose of this paper is to differentiate humanistic-existential therapy and psychodynamic therapy.

Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy

Humanistic-existential psychotherapy emphasizes getting insight into the human experience and focusing on the client instead of the symptoms. It holds an assumption that individuals have the ability of choice and self-awareness (Krug, 2019). It seeks to assist individuals in realizing their uniqueness by gaining an enhanced awareness of themselves and the world surrounding them. Humanistic-existential psychotherapy has five goals: Create the ability for self-awareness and understanding the implications of freedom of choice; Establish a personal identity and be available for valuable relationships; Seek out life’s purpose, meaning, values and beliefs; Acknowledge normal anxiety as a natural living situation; Comprehend death and nonexistence (Robbins, 2021). Clients on humanistic-existential psychotherapy explore the aspects of their lives that support their journey and those that can be eliminated to live a more meaningful existence.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy centers on unconscious processes presented in an individual’s behavior. Its goal is to promote an individual’s self-awareness and insight into the influence of the past on current behavior. The psychodynamic approach allows an individual to explore unresolved conflicts and issues that transpire from previous dysfunctional relationships and traumas (Van Nieuwenhove & Meganck, 2020). Besides, it centers on modifying problematic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by identifying their unconscious significance and motivations. The therapist assesses a client’s history to identify the events that may be impacting the current issues (Gatta et al., 2019). Besides, the t

Assignment Comparing Humanistic Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Assignment Comparing Humanistic Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

herapist has a crucial role in interpreting what a client’s conscious behavior uncovers about the unconscious mind.

Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy vs. Psychodynamic Therapy

Humanistic-Existential and Psychodynamic Therapy differ in their goals. The former aims at understanding how

Assignment Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

Assignment Comparing Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy with Other Approaches

individuals identify themselves and experience the world, while the latter seeks to resolve the internal conflicts causing emotional suffering (Van Nieuwenhove & Meganck, 2020). The two therapies also differ in their point of view on personality. The humanistic-existential view is pessimistic and considers that individuals are mostly good, while the psychodynamic standpoint is pessimistic (Gatta et al., 2019). The humanistic-existential theory considers behavior a free choice and will, while psychodynamic therapy considers behavior as determined. Another difference is in the role of the therapist. In humanistic-existential therapy, the therapist assumes an objective role and listens to the client (Robbins, 2021). The therapist offers opportunities for change, but it is upon the client to actively address their problems. Humanistic-existential therapy is non-directed, and the client determines the topic of discussion during the therapy session. On the other hand, the psychodynamic therapist is authoritative and often decides the topic to be addressed during a therapy session.

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The psychotherapies differences might impact my PMHNP practice since, when applying the psychodynamic approach, the PMHNP will be required to focus on clients’ unconscious thoughts and conflicts that stem from subdued memories (Gatta et al., 2019). Conversely, when applying humanistic-existential therapy, the PMHNP will be required to encourage clients’ responsibility for their actions by centering on shifting emotions into the present and addressing them.

Why Humanistic-Existential Psychotherapy Was Utilized in the Video

The video discusses Joe, a client who presented for therapy, stating that he was not feeling very alive. Joe was in therapy two years ago due to anger problems. He currently states that he is experiencing difficulties understanding where he is and feels constricted. Humanistic-existential therapy was employed in this patient to help him become self-aware and have the capacity to make a choice. The client is now aware of his current state in life. Therefore, humanistic-existential therapy is ideal for developing his identity and making him fully available for valuable relationships. Furthermore, humanistic-existential therapy was used to assist the client in exploring the purpose, meaning, value, and beliefs in his life and, as a result, identify a meaningful existence. If psychodynamic therapy had been used in the client, the therapist would have made him explore past unresolved conflicts and issues that might be contributing to the current emotional issues.


In humanistic-existential therapy, the therapist helps clients to recognize their resistance to have a fuller existence. On the other hand, the therapist in psychodynamic therapy helps the client gain self-awareness and insight into the influence of the past on current behavior. The two theories differ in the aspects of goals, view on personality, and the therapist’s role.


Cook, S. C., Schwartz, A. C., & Kaslow, N. J. (2017). Evidence-Based Psychotherapy: Advantages and Challenges. Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics14(3), 537–545.

Gatta, M., Miscioscia, M., Svanellini, L., Spoto, A., Difronzo, M., de Sauma, M., & Ferruzza, E. (2019). Effectiveness of brief psychodynamic therapy with children and adolescents: an outcome study. Frontiers in pediatrics7, 501.

Krug, O. T. (2019). Existential‐Humanistic and Existential‐Integrative Therapy: Method and Practice. The Wiley world handbook of existential therapy, 257-266.

Robbins, B. D. (2021). The joyful life: An existential-humanistic approach to positive psychology in the time of a pandemic. Frontiers in Psychology, 2878.

Van Nieuwenhove, K., & Meganck, R. (2020). Core interpersonal patterns in complex trauma and the process of change in psychodynamic therapy: A case comparison study. Frontiers in psychology11, 122.