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Psychology. Existential and Person-Centered Theories Research Paper

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This is a very important theory in counseling that capitalizes on the potential of human beings. The theory is based on the belief that human being exist alone. The loneliness in the world of humans can be overcome by utilizing people’s values and meanings in life so as to find solutions to problems which are facing them in life. This theory has been noted to view human beings to be undergoing change every now and then. In this change environment they encounter advantages and disadvantages in their environment and also they get chances or opportunities for growth while at the same time they do encounter limitations towards their growth and properity. One important characteristic of existential approach is the way in which ones personal life has to be explored and the complexities in this life are identified. The world in which an individual exists is also navigated through while establishing the type of relationship between someone and the world he/she lives. The goals of this therapy is to make the client understand his/her values assumptions and even ideals so as to be in better position of getting in terms with truths of the world he/she lives. The therapist is a facilitator of the entire process of helping the client to understand his assumptions values and ideals. Here the client is expected to open up for his ideals, values and assumptions to be explored by the facilitator of the process. Greenberg, Leslie , Jeanne , Watson, and Germain,1998)The client is not expected to give a diagnosis or even attempt to advice the therapist.

There is a good relationship between the client and the therapist as for the process to work the client has to be free and reveal his personal ideology. This is applicable especially for those clients who want to increase their self awareness potential. Existential therapy capitalizes on the therapist’s ability to question their biases and prejudice. This is vital so as to get the clear picture of the client’s situation in a very open mind and avoid any kind of pre-conception of the real picture of what the client believes. The key point here is that the therapist has to understand the clients meaning and not his own by looking at the client’s advantages and disadvantages opportunities and limitations. This should be achieved with the highest level of clarity that the client may not be even in a position to master. The most important thing for the therapist is to value the meaning which the client comes up with in their own unique ways.

The therapist can use an approach whereby he can appeal for the client to reveal both the physical and natural world whereby things like interrelationships with the public, sickness or even spiritual settings can be put into consideration. The therapist does not impose this on the client but it only facilitates a broader understanding of the situation such that if the client fails to mention a certain dimension then it would be understood that there was some sort of deficiency in the clients ability to reveal all the requirements. This therapy is only applicable to clients who do not view their problem to be symptoms of psychopathology but rather those who see their problem as challenges of life. It is suitable for clients who have problems in fitting in a particular social setting or organization or any problem that is psychosocial in nature. For instance patients who are contemplating to commit suicide with a feeling that life is not worth living.

The approach can also be appropriate is a social misfit setting and where the environment is not conducive for socializing. In my opinion this approach focuses so much on the intellect of the patient for instance things like self examination at the expense of other important aspects that might be behind the problem.

Person centered theory

In this particular theory, much importance is placed on the client so as to enable the therapist find solutions to his/her problems with a non –directed point of view.

The theory assumes that given conducive environment humans can freely express their views and conceptions. There essentially the role of the therapist is to give the client that supportive environment. The goal of this approach is to create an increased self esteem situation in the client and even wider experience to the situation. It also seeks to create a more elaborate agreement between the ideal situation and the real situation of the client.I can say that this therapy aims at making the client have a much better and wider understanding of the self. It also contributes towards a reduction in negativities such as the feeling of guilt, lack of self-confidence and defensiveness. The therapist is the one who determines the general direction of this process such that without him providing supportive environment then positive results cannot be achieved. The success of this approach is not based on the skill or training but rather the attitude of the therapist towards assisting the client. In this important characteristic the therapist must exercise empathy, have an unconditional positivism to the problem then try to be as more open and genuine as possible. This theory is therefore characterized by the therapist providing a conducive environment whereby the clients can freely without any feeling of insecurity hence facilitate the exploration of his/her life threatening situation. In this therapy there is close interpersonal relationship between the client and the therapist because the client is expected to be free from any other factor that might be a hindrance to expression of all that is required. In its application the theory is done by many therapists in one hour sessions in a week keeping in mind the needs of the client. This therapy can be used to help people who suffer from Schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, alcoholism and any other disorder which is related to personality. However it is vital to point out that this therapy is only limited to people who are literate and have a good command of their language. Otherwise it cannot work for people who are illiterate or even those with speech disorders. The approach is very effective for clients who have relationship disorders as most of them have achieved tremendous outcomes with the therapy. (Cain, 2001).

This approach only works well in a setting whereby the client willingly goes to the therapist seeking to be helped. In some situations where the clients is under some sort of pressure to see the therapist then this approach which not yield the expected results. In my view this therapy can only be successful if the three fundamental principles of empathy, unconditionally, and positive attitudes are met by the therapist. In some situations clients have suffered frustrations because of being ignorant that the therapist might have had some failures in the past and thus they may not be able to address a similar problem. With repeated incidences of the problem some clients have been studied to get bored of this kind of therapy. Critics of this therapy argue that unsuccessful past sessions using this approach affect the client negatively and can consequently lead to negative outcomes such as the patient continuing to demonstrate behaviors that undermine his/ her self ability.


Cain, David J., ed. Humanistic Psychotherapies: Handbook of Research and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

Greenberg, Leslie S., Jeanne C. Watson, and Germain Lietauer, eds. Handbook of Experiential Psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press, 1998.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Psychology. Existential and Person-Centered Theories." October 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/psychology-existential-and-person-centered-theories/.


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