Humanistic Therapy overlaps considerably with existential approaches and emphasizes the growth and fulfillment of the self (self-actualization) through self-mastery, self-examination and creative expression. Although the influences of the unconscious and society are taken into account, freedom of choice in creating one’s experience is at the core, and is often referred to as “self determination.” The ideal description of a humanistic therapist is genuine, non-judgemental, and empathic, and uses open-ended responses, reflective listening and tentative interpretations to promote client self-understanding, acceptance and actualization. These therapist attributes and behaviors are not unique to humanistic therapists (nor have they been found to be sufficient for positive therapy outcome), however they are valuable and typically present with any good therapist.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is similar to humanistic therapy in that both are here-and-now approaches and the therapeutic relationship is egalitarian (a collaboration between two equals). Freedom of choice and greater self-awareness are also common to both. Where they differ is that CBT is more structured and focused, and the therapist is more active in the session then is typical of humanistic therapists.
CBT has been demonstrated by many research studies to be the most effective approach to therapy for a variety of psychological problems. The therapy is goal-oriented, and the focus on thoughts, assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors is key. In CBT, the person develops more realistic and rational perspectives, and makes healthier behavioral choices, which results in relief from negative emotional states. Specific techniques, strategies and methods are used to help people to improve their mood, relationships and work performance.
Schema Therapy is essentially an integration of cognitive, behavioral, gestalt and psychodynamic approaches, using the best aspects of each in a unified therapy. It is similar to CBT (standard cognitive behavioral therapy) in that the person learns how to correct his or her habitual and problematic patterns of thinking and feeling, and the corresponding difficulties in behavioral coping style. The focus is on identifying and understanding, and then challenging and overcoming the long-standing maladaptive patterns in thinking, feeling and behavior that create obstacles for a person in getting needs met and attaining life goals. The goal is for the person to feel better and enjoy greater life satisfaction.
CTA is a network of experienced therapists in the NY metro area who provide Cognitive Therapy and Schema-Focused Therapy. To inquire about an appointment, please call us at 212-258-2577.