Contrast and Compare Cbt and Existential Therapy

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Contrast and compare CBT and Existential therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT is representative of the integration of behavioural therapy and cognitive therapy. It encourages the empowerment of an individual to be able to change how they think (cognitive) and how awareness of particular problematic patterns may impact upon our consequent responses (behaviour) (R ch7). Pivotal to our understanding of such mental health problems from a CBT perspective is Beck’s ‘Cognitive theory of emotion’. It purposes that events and situations are not responsible for emotional responses. Instead it is the ‘meanings’ we attach which reflect the complex interaction between an individual’s history, mood and the context of experience. These
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As a result, existential therapists believe an individual may become stuck in their ‘existential guilt’ (where one does not fulfil potential or possibility) and ‘sedimenting’ beliefs (Merleau-Ponty,1945/1962). Similarly, Beck’s (1976) ‘negative cognitive triad’ identifies the relevance of thinking negatively about one’s experiences (past), one’s self (present) and the future. Thus severe and persistent depression can be perceived as a reflective emotional state in each approach.
In terms of anxiety, existential therapy suggests such an emotional state is a universal aspect of existence rather than a clinical diagnosis. Soren Kierkeggar understands anxiety to be the consequence of our freedom and our awareness of it. For Heidegger, anxiety is fundamental to human existence and is not the result of our individual personality or development. He believed that anxious moods occur in the context of an awareness of limited possibilities and the finite quality of life. This is furthered by Cohn (1997) who suggests existential anxiety to be the product of our ‘thrownness’ into a world we did not choose, our necessity to make choices with uncertain outcomes and awareness of death and morality.

Within CBT, anxiety is often associated with notions of imminent threat or danger in any given situation or event. Crucial to anxious experience in CBT is ‘meaning’. Through negative interpretations,