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Depression & Mental Health Blog
August 25, 2021
MHC @ DH
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The Role of Humanistic and Existential Therapy in Mental Health Treatment

Treating mental health disorders begins with understanding your options and focusing on your personal goals. When a medical professional diagnoses a mental health disorder, the best way to handle the situation will vary. In some cases, humanistic and existential therapy provides the tools that you need to start focusing on your health and avoid the risks associated with your specific mental health condition.

What Is Humanistic Therapy?

Humanistic therapy refers to any treatment program that focuses on the individual's specific needs and goals. According to the American Psychological Association, humanistic therapies fall into three main categories, which include:
  • Treatment focused on the individual
  • Gestalt Therapy – emphasis on personal responsibility and the present moment rather than the past
  • Existential Therapy – emphasis on human condition as a whole, both capabilities and limitations
The National Institutes of Health report that humanistic and existential therapies emphasize the human experience and focus on helping individuals with better decision-making skills. According to NIH, the primary factor that sets humanistic therapy apart from existential therapy is the focus on personal acceptance and growth. Ideally, you want to grow as an individual throughout the treatment program and learn different ways to accept yourself.

What Is Existential Therapy?

Existential therapy is a form of humanistic therapy that specifically focuses on the ideas of personal responsibility and individual freedom. During existential therapy, you focus on discussing the reasons for your existence and your free will to make decisions about your life. According to the APA, existential therapy primarily searches for meaning in life and strives to help individuals develop their sense of self-determination. It differs from basic humanistic therapy by focusing on the search for meaning and free will that allows you to make decisions about the direction you want to take for your life.

The Advantage Of Taking Personal Responsibility

Humanistic and existential therapies help you take responsibility for your actions by accepting your behavior and the consequences associated with your actions. Essentially, it means that you control the way you react and behave, regardless of the outside influences that impact your life. In the case of mental health disorders, you have control in deciding how you will handle the complications in your life and then take the appropriate steps to manage your behaviors. California State University at Northridge says that humanistic therapies are a type of client-centered therapy, which means that the discussion and recommendations of a mental health professional focus on your specific goals, your concerns, and the way that your mental health disorder impacts your behavior.

Going The Right Direction

 A psychologist will help you determine better ways to manage your behavior based on your goals and situation. They'll also help you recognize that you still have the ability to make decisions about your behavior and the way that you react to others. Lastly, you'll learn valuable ways to handle different situations healthily, without putting yourself or loved ones in danger. Accepting yourself and learning about how your behavior works will help you move forward with a healthy lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

The best treatment for any mental health disorder depends on the situation; however, humanistic and existential therapies focus on your specific goals and your situation so that you can take responsibility for your actions. By accepting your disorder and learning to take appropriate measures to manage it, you improve your lifestyle and personal well-being. If you would like to talk to a mental health professional about what treatment path best fits your condition, call us today. Mental Health Center at Destination Hope has a team of experienced professionals that are dedicated to patient centered treatment, guiding you to a happier and healthier life.
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