2025 DQ 16 RESP 2

Readings and Discussion Post: Humanistic Existential Psychotherapies
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Readings: Humanistic – Existential

Wedding & Corsini: Ch. 8

Rogers, C. R. (2007).


Rollo May, Ph.D., On Existential Psychotherapy (Links to an external site.)
Carl Rogers, Ph.D., On Person Centered Therapy (Links to an external site.)
Carl Rogers Ph.D., And the Person Centered Approach (Links to an external site.)

Discussion post:

What are the core elements of Humanistic Psychology? What are the core elements of    Existential psychology and psychotherapies?

How do they compare?


Humanistic Psychology is an approach to psychology that is often referred to as the third force and was in response to or opposed, the then-current approaches such as behavioralism and psychoanalysis (Kirschenbaum, n.d.). The Humanistic approach, by Carl Rogers (2007), focuses on the human sense of self or one’s experience of self (Rogers, 2007). Kirschenbaum (n.d.) explains that Rogers’s approach “gave more emphasis and credence to the individual’s perceptions or phenomenal field” than behavioralism or psychoanalysis (Kirschenbaum, n.d.). He went on to describe how Roger’s therapeutic approach was not only on fixing one’s problems but also included their overall wellbeing and reaching “what Rogers described as the fully functioning person”(Kirschenbaum, n.d.). Lastly, Roger’s humanistic approach also included the unique qualities, in theory, to humans, such as “choice, will, freedom, values, feelings, goals” (Kirschenbaum, n.d.). In the Interview of Rogers by Masterson (n.d.), Rogers reflects on his childhood and the feeling that no one could ever know his inner world as no one was listening or genuinely hearing what he had to say about his experience. He reasoned that he would have benefited from someone merely listening in a non-judgmental way and therefore became inspired to listen to others with no judgment (Yalom, n.d.). From the humanistic approach, Carl Rogers developed a psychotherapy style that he called client-centered (also known as person-centered). Kirschenbaum (n.d.) outlines the central tenets of this person-centered psychotherapy;

First is to accept the client as she is, as a person of inherent worth, possessing both positive and negative feelings and impulses. . . Second is empathy, ‘the therapist’s willingness and sensitive ability to understand the client’s thoughts, feelings, and struggles from the client’s point of view to adopt his frame of reference,’ Third is congruence, to be genuine, real, authentic, or congruent in the relationship (Kirschenbaum, n.d.).

Existential Psychology is another approach that was developed by Rollo May (1987) in his attempt to reduce the amount of “gimmick” approaches (Schneider, 1987). He felt that “A therapy that is important, as I see it, is a therapy that enlarges our experience, makes us more sensitive, enlarges our intellectual capacities as well as other capacities” (Schneider, 1987). Yalom and Josselson (2014) explain that the existential approach understands that people must grapple with the concept of human existence and mortality. They assert that life is more than the “objective” categories and that fundamental realities of being human influence one’s inner world and what it means to be alive (p. 266). These fundamentals are called the Ultimate Concerns of Existential Psychology and are as follows”freedom, isolation, meaning, and death” (Yalom & Josselson, 2014). In an existential approach, Yalom and Josselson (2014) also explain that the distinction between therapist and client may also be problematic. People in session benefit more from a “fellow traveler” experience. This enables them to feel that they are in this human experience together with another rather than as one who seeks assistance from an authority (p. 269). 

The Existential approach and Humanistic approach both see one as having a subjective experience of the world and seeks to create an atmosphere for the client to explore their inner reality safely and with acceptance. Both of these approaches believe that it is not enough to treat the ‘problem’ but to see the person as a whole being who has value, life, and the potential to achieve a more profound sense of wellbeing.  Winston (2015) discusses the relationship between the Existential approach and the humanistic approach. She explains their differences as the Existential approach is more interested in one’s more extensive existence as a human rather than the sense of self, and this existence “precedes” one’s “essence” (Winston, 2015). With a humanistic approach, one’s essence precedes their existence. The humanistic approach is focused on the present moment and being heard and accepted in the present to discover how to reach their most significant potential as a human. The existential approach is also about acceptance and being heard but is more concerned with how the “future gives meaning to the present” and allowing one to become aware of their “state of being” to understand their meaning in life (Winston, 2015). In this way, the Existential approach is concerned with mortality and meaning. In contrast, the Humanistic approach believes that all people have a potential for “self-actualization” and positive change and are less concerned with life purpose or death (Winston, 2015).


Kirshenbaum, H. (Director). (n.d.). Carl Rogers and the person-centered approach.[Video/DVD] http://www.psychotherapy.net.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/stream/tcs/video?vid=274 (Links to an external site.): Psychotherapy.net.

Rogers, C. R. (2007). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), 44(3), 240-248. doi:10.1037/0033-3204.44.3.240

May, R. (Guest Expert), Schneider, K. (Host). (1987). Rollo May on existential psychology. [Video/DVD] http://www.psychotherapy.net.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/stream/tcs%20/video?vid=060&clip=cs13470ce38010 (Links to an external site.): Psychotherapy.net.

Winston, C. N. (2015). Points of convergence and divergence between existential and humanistic psychology: A few observations. The Humanistic Psychologist, 43(1), 40-53. doi:10.1080/08873267.2014.993067

Yalom, I., & Josselson, R. (2014). Existential psychotherapy. In D. Wedding, & R. J. Corsini (Eds.), Current psychotherapies 10th ed. (pp. 265-297). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

Rogers, C., Rogers, N. (Guest Experts), Yalom, V. (Host). (n.d.). Carl Rogers on person-centered therapy. [Video/DVD] http://www.psychotherapy.net.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/stream/tcs/video?vid=204 (Links to an external site.): Psychotherapy.net.

Reference no: EM132069492


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