Psychotherapy: Theoretical Orientation


In the past couple of years, the concept of theoretical orientation has brought several controversies. Amongst the many psychological theories, an individual can best establish effective personal change through particular psychotherapy. Many psychotherapists have remained fervent on a specific school of thought where a given theory is best suited for a particular client and for a specific time. Current mental health practitioners are more concerned with integrating diverse philosophies from various viewpoints rather than choosing the best model for practice. Notably, through integration, the psychotherapists employ the different theoretical approaches necessary for improving the efficacy and efficiency of counseling processes.

The idea of amalgamation finds support from diverse mental counselors who believe that no particular model meets all the needs of a particular client population about the several multicultural limitations. Psychologists and counselors should be flexible in integrating approaches required for psychoanalysis. Incorporation of theoretical models such as Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and existential theory, and such techniques as paraphrasing, a personal reflection of emotions, and active listening have been proven to be efficient in counseling clients with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Personal Theoretical Approach to Counseling

As a professional counselor, my basic theoretical approach to counseling is that psychotherapists should offer clients assistance, which helps them develop effective coping strategies necessary to withstand the day-to-day life stressors. In essence, the capacity to discourse on each person’s needs is the key to my profession. Adapting to various personal traits and behaviors during counseling is vital due to the multicultural diversity of clients. However, it is equally important to recognize that each individual is at liberty to make life choices that best fit their culture and the environment in which they exist.

Precisely, during counseling, I am often conscious of the unique life situations, thus helping me in advising my clients in ways that resonate with their viewpoints. For instance, many people do find themselves in negative life stressors or undesirable thoughts and are not cognizant of how to break such patterns, which often lead them to unconstructive emotional behaviors. Therefore, because of my heterogeneous character, I believe integrating both existential and cognitive-behavioral theory resonates well with my way of thinking. As such, the combination of the styles allows me to incorporate applicable psychotherapies and techniques that best fit my behavior and general psychoanalysis. Besides, I function as a person ties back to the two theories since I can recognize that people are different in unique ways.

Professional Experiences

In counseling from an integrative standpoint, I will combine the key ideas from both theories, which are necessary for comprehending my personal development and personality regarding theoretical orientation. Kurt Lewin posits that for theoretical orientation to resonate with an individual’s values, such models should reflect one’s preferred counseling style and client’s relation (as cited in Jones-Smith, 2016). Because of my heterogeneous character, I have the virtue of selecting what seems to be best in innumerable doctrines or thoughts, thus allowing me to challenge ordinary thinking and establish unique ways of approaching clientele’s problems.

Despite both CBT and existential approaches not following the same school of thought and principles, my personality is best described by them. According to Lewin, one should choose a theory that best reflects their behavior and character rather than their mode of thinking (as cited in Jones-Smith, 2016). Existential psychotherapy is a therapy that places prominence on the human condition in its entirety. It uses a positive approach that approves human capabilities and ambitions while instantaneously recognizing human confines.

Interpretations of Personal Development and Disposition

CBT recognizes that psychosomatic complications may be entrenched in infancy and subsequently secured by present thought processes. In this regard, my personal life is best described by the two theories. For instance, during my high school period, I lost my best friend with who we shared so many things in common. The event happened at a crucial time in my personal growth and development. I had several unanswered questions, soul-searching, and frequent contemplations about the meaning of life without my friend. Fortunately, with both CBT and existential theories, I was able to cope with the life stressors during that difficult time.

Understanding the association of my feelings and how they affected my thought process and conduct made my existence as a teenager to be a lot more controllable. I have always implemented my free will while remaining steadfast in the set of steps that ascertain that such behaviors as comprehending personal attributes were never compromised. Although free will is decisive to our safety and happiness, leadership is necessary in terms of deconditioning oneself from maladaptive actions.

In terms of professional life, the integration of the theories has helped in placing equilibrium between the present and the future counseling styles. Using CBT and existential therapies, I form a therapeutic relationship with my clients and identify with them. In this case, I use both models, which highlight perceiving the world through the clients’ behavior by creating a personal and dependable rapport with the patient through enunciating genuineness, cordiality, reverence, and compassion in a situation that offers care, sympathy, and non-judgment. According to existentialism, establishing emphasis on contiguity of the patient-therapist relationship is vital and can be accommodating for clienteles in a makeshift therapy (Vehling & Kissane, 2018).

The combination also helps in creating a collaborative rapport in which clienteles develop abilities to become specialists (Hullinger et al., 2020). During counseling, I attempt to appreciate the interpretation of the challenges of life, thus ensuring that I serve my patients with respect and dignity. Moreover, my choice of the two models is based on the fact that I endeavor to practice accurately with compassion and effective personal care, hence allowing the maintenance of vigor in my clients.

Views about How Symptoms or Problems Develop and Hoe People Change

Based on my experience in counseling and my formative personal life, I possess diverse views of how symptoms or problems develop and the different ways in which people change. Growing up, my attributes and character were directly linked to the emotions and life stressors I was undergoing. My character resonated with my inability to understand the ways of controlling my emotions and thought processes. As such, I formed a maladaptive coping strategy where I felt comfortable in the short-term, yet, with a painful long-term experience. According to Jones-Smith (2016), individuals are endowed to take control of their psychotherapies by acknowledging the accountability of changes in their personal lives. To live a rational life, the negative experiences in life help in self-development, thus shaping an individual’s identity and behavior.

The fundamental principle, according to existential psychotherapy, is to place a balance between being conscious of negative life experiences without being overwhelmed by them. Individuals who preserve a positive balance are often inspired to make personal changes and decisions that can positively impact their lives. Although such people may not identify how their differences have developed or emerged, they often acknowledge the need for taking actions that eliminate the development of problems in their lives. In essence, the reality of such symptoms or problems reassures a person to make the most of opportunities and to treasure the things they own.

Like the demise of my friend, the threat and the view of living without him, the apparent insignificance of life, and the weighty restraint of making life-changing choices may each be a cause for acute existential nervousness. According to existential therapy, how an individual develops these core conflicts and the verdicts they make as a consequence eventually define a person’s present-day and imminent circumstances, hence their change (Vehling, & Kissane, 2018). Our free will is unique, and only we retain the authority to change what we do not like. Ultimately, we make our selections, and we are entirely answerable for our failures. Once we begin steering away from our positive outlook that’s when we begin to experience problems. Personal growth is key to our basic human nature, and each person is unique in their way.

In my professional life and experience, the existential approach has been an essential initial step in comprehending the innermost self. In the application of such theories, I realized that my professional life required me to establish a composed nature in my duties and roles as a professional counselor, thus allowing me to come to terms with the challenges I was encountering. In essence, possessing a full appreciation of my thought process during counseling helped me alter my mindset into a more open and accommodative figure. Using personal experience in professional therapy is also important.

For instance, I often use the death of my friend as the beginning of turmoil, and at the same time, as a time for self-actualization. In this case, the anger and loneliness I faced during the time have developed me as a professional psychotherapist. According to Carl Rogers, an individual possesses a tendency to self-actualization leading to the realization of a person’s development of capacities (as cited in Jones-Smith, 2016). Self-actualization plays a key role in our free will because it denotes that our potential is not dependent on others but ourselves.

Client-centered Approach and the Theoretical Factors

The client-centered approach goes further into elucidating how clients need to have particular control during their therapies. For instance, such techniques as a personal reflection of emotional state, rephrasing, and active listening provide a client with needed comfort and the opportunity at establishing a mutual understanding, thus enabling the client to stay positive about changes in their lives. However, humankind and nature often provide a personal defense, which reduces the exposure of an individual to vulnerabilities. For instance, during the therapeutic session, most clients are always hesitant to believe that they were on the wrong side.

This is attributed to the fact that they come to the session with the feeling of “am disadvantaged.” In this case, using existential therapy alone might be helpful because it is against CBT, which is structured around stimulus-response behavior. CBT is based on discovering why an individual behaves the way they do and how to complement one’s self during change. Contrarily, the existential model is more about initiating free will, which is about providing one with a stand, position, and freedom, which is needed for establishing own conclusions with regards to personal problems.

The Mutual Relation of CBT and Existential Approaches

Although both CBT and Existential methods contradict each other, acknowledging that every client’s case is unique and requires various approaches for quality assessment and treatment is essential. The combination is important, especially during the adolescent stage, because of their maladaptive behavior. For instance, because the stage involves the action of getting acquainted with personal mind and thought processes, the adolescent is often associated with drastic emotional changes, which can cause the manifestation of negative external reactions. Essentially, irrational beliefs also manifest during this stage and are formed in the process of exploring such emotional states, leading to maladaptive behavior.

Therefore, amalgamating these theories allow clients to appreciate their pain and suffering, yet allows them to see beyond their abilities. The hybrid therapy of CBT and Existential therapy also allow patients to utilize their free will to adapt to their maladaptive behavior.

In another instance, both Client-Centered and CBT would yield a full circle of therapeutic solutions and psychotherapy. The combination of these theories can also be used interchangeably when one set of the model is superior in a given counseling session to the other. A client’s personal development is obtainable through an alteration in these theories. Despite the contradictions between the ideas, Albert Ellis once said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your destiny” (as cited in Nemko, 2016, para. 1).

Free will is implemented in every phase of Ellis’s quote, permitting one to draw a relationship between the two philosophies. Specifically, some difficulties in life entail more than one approach. Being able to adjust between the concepts sanctions a psychotherapist to realize their total capacity. While my orientation may seem like a paradox to most, attainment of success can only be achieved when a contented medium is instituted between both philosophy styles. According to Carl Rogers, “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination” (as cited in Hullinger et al., 2020, p. 12). The ultimate objective is to ascertain that the client lets go of their uncertainties and life complications, leaving them with the necessary tools to lead a positive life.


In conclusion, because the existential approach to psychotherapy aims at the causal factors of alleged behavioral and mental health issues, the approach may not directly discourse the principle concerns an individual is encountering. In this regard, the existential method, which is entirely adjustable, is often applied along with other CBT theories for complete treatment during counseling. Combining the two models can provide maximum efficiency in psychoanalysis and improvements in recovery processes.

Notably, because of the comprehensive, in-depth approach seen in existential psychotherapy, the model may not be applied to individuals who are unwilling to discover their intrapsychic processes because such people are solely interested in establishing a quick fix for their mental health encounters and problems. Being a person with heterogeneous behavior, using the combination of CBT and existential psychotherapies resonated with me based on how I reacted after the loss of my best friend. The coping strategies I implored were a factor derived from the amalgamation of the two theories. Therefore, accepting the association of my feelings and how they impacted my thought process and conduct made life more controllable.


Jones-Smith, E. (2016). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: An integrative approach (2nd ed.). Sage Publications, Inc.

Hullinger, A. M., DiGirolamo, J. A., & Tkach, J. T. (2020). A professional development study: The lifelong journeys of coaches. International Coaching Psychology Review, 15(1), 8-19.

Nemko, M. (2016). On an Albert Ellis Quote: How much free will do we really have? Psychology Today. Web.

Vehling, S., & Kissane, D. W. (2018). Existential distress in cancer: Alleviating suffering from fundamental loss and change. Psycho‐oncology, 27(11), 2525-2530. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Psychotherapy: Theoretical Orientation." September 18, 2023.