What would be an example of a scenario or conversation between a humanistic therapist and someone he is treating who has generalized anxiety disorder versus an example of that between a therapist...

What would be an example of a scenario or conversation between a humanistic therapist and someone he is treating who has generalized anxiety disorder versus an example of that between a therapist who uses cognitive therapy with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder.
Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Humanistic therapy helps patients develop a more holistic and positive view of themselves and their lives. The field, which developed in reaction to behavioral therapy, puts forth the idea that the patient is at the center of the therapy, not the diagnosis or the behavior. One of the fathers of humanistic theory, Carl Rogers, emphasized "unconditional positive regard" for the patient and his or her beliefs. This means that the therapist values the subjective thoughts and feeling of the patient.

Humanistic therapy for someone who has generalized anxiety disorder would emphasize the patient's freedom to make meaningful choices. The therapist would value the patient's own views and subjective take on his or her life and would help the person make choices that help him or her achieve self-actualization, or the meaningful use of his or her talents. For example, if the patient wanted to work with animals and saw this work as more meaningful and less stressful than their current office work, the therapist would value the patient's interests and choices and help them work towards a more meaningful career.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety would involve the therapist helping the patient to examine the cognitions, or thought patterns, and behaviors that are making him or her anxious. For example, many people engage in irrational automatic thought patterns such as catastrophizing, in which they image the worst possible outcome of a situation. For example, they assume a call from their boss means that they will be fired. A therapist would help a patient recognize and shift these types of anxiety-producing thought patterns. In addition, the therapist would help the person develop behavior patterns, such as regular exercise and meditation, that could help the person reduce his or her anxiety.

skm4266548 | Student

A cognitive-behavioral approach to treating generalized anxiety disorder would entail changing the thinking patterns causing the anxiety. For example, if you worry excessively about specific things, like spiders, a cognitive therapist might get to the cause of your worrying and implement exercises to retrain your brain not to worry so much.

The goal would be to train the patient's brain to stop believing their worries are necessary. Cognitive behavioral therapy would aim to rewire their tendencies via repetitive exercises that allow them to see how unproductive and unnecessary their worries truly are. 

A humanistic approach, on the other hand, focuses on more than just the brain patterns of the patient. Instead of working to undo the root of the patient's worries, the humanistic approach focuses more on identifying and accepting the pain that comes along with life. It focuses on allowing the patient to see the bigger picture and seek self-actualization despite their psychological issues and past experiences.

Instead of working on fixing specific issues, humanistic therapy is meant to help the patient accept their issues and live a happy, successful life regardless. A humanistic therapist might show a patient with generalized anxiety disorder how to focus on their strengths instead of honing in on their weaknesses so often.