Focus is on the present and on whatone is becoming; that is the approach has a future orientation. It stressesself-awareness before action. (1996, p. 465)In layman terms, Existential therapy can be described as a philosophicalapproach that is not designed to cure people but instead help the client reflectand search for value and meaning in life. Existential Therapy does not supply acookbook of methods like other approaches but instead it provides a frameworkthat is adaptable to the therapist, in which to view the individual and theworld in which they participate.
Definition of Person-Centered (Client-Centered) Therapy According to Mosby’s Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary,client-centered therapy is a non directive method of group or individualpsychotherapy, originated by Carl Rogers, in which the role of the therapist isto listen to and reflect or restate without judgment or interpretation the wordsof the client. Objectives of Existential TherapyThe objectives of Existential Therapy are quite unique. Existentialcounselors are focused on helping the client achieve and expand their self-awareness. Many Therapist assume once self awareness is achieved, the clientcan examine new ways of dealing with problems and except the responsibility ofchoosing.
Objectives of Client-centered TherapyThe objective of client-centered therapy is to assist the client toexperience self exploration, so that they can identify problems that arehindering their growth process. Essentially, the main goal of client-centeredtherapy is to have the client achieve a sense of increased awareness andunderstanding of his attitudes, feelings, and behaviors. Professional OpinionsExistential and client-centered therapy have been criticized for notbeing scientific enough. They have been down played as not being empiricaland not having a therapeutic model that is firmly set in stone with a set ofmethods and interventions. A large number of therapist feel that Existentialand client-centered therapy are not sound therapeutic approaches for treatingand diagnosing adolescents.
One main reason for this argument is theexistential view toward adolescence. Existentialist view adolescence as a timewhen a young person begins to gain a sense of awareness on a surface level. After achieving this level, the adolescent gradually starts to focus on selfmeaning, which takes place through the development of their identity(Hacker,1994). Existentialist also believe that how the individual conceptilizes deathplays a part in the whole being of the person.
A survey of 82 students revealedpeople viewed death as cold and denied. This information indicates death isvery influencial in creating anxiety in people (Westman, 1992, p. 1064). Existential and client-centered therapy have not labeled themselves witha distinct clinical procedure, instead these techniques and concepts have beeneffective in helping patients to recognize and accomplish their goals.
For this reason, I believe existential thought coupled with client-centeredtherapy are appropriate in treating clients who confront some type of obstacleor major event in their life (confronting death, sudden isolation, changing fromchildhood to adolescence). David Cain(1993), a person-centered therapist,believes client-centered therapy is not a wise decision for treating clients insome cases, he sites that due to the lack of evolution of Client-centeredtherapy and the client-centered community’s unwillingness to change with theadvancements of counseling and psychotherapy has limited the therapeuticapproach. On the otherhand, therapist Philip Kendall and Michael A. Southam-Gerow,seem to recognize the importance of client-centered therapy.
Kendall andSoutham-Gerow conducted a study which examined the long-term effects ofpsychosocial treatment for anxiety disordered youth, which they evaluated thelong term effects and the effective components of the treatment. The results from the study revealed that children and adolescent clientstreated two to five years earlier with psychotherapy retained their gains overanxiety related disorders(p 728). Kendall noted the lack of anxiety related problems could have resultedfrom the clients maturation and not the long-term effects of therapy. Thisevidence alone exhibits just one aspect of the tremendous effects of client-centered psychotherapy. The study also demonstrated the variety of techniquesused with the clients, which ranged from relaxation exercises to role playing.
Another ongoing criticism of the two dynamic approaches to therapy isgender plays a major role in the outcome of therapy. Researchers (Porter, Cox,Williams, Wagner, .