Theory Application in Psychotherapy

Theory Application in Psychotherapy

Mental health is the state of well-being in individuals where people can cope with the stresses of daily living, work productively and contribute positively to the environment or the community. Mental illness alters the individual’s ability to think, make decisions and cope with daily living activities. Various approaches are used to treat mental illnesses as well as preventing future occurrences in the society. Psychotherapy is a treatment method of mental illness that deals with emotional perspectives of people to identify their problem and provide appropriate psychological care (Wheeler, 2014). Psychotherapy is used in both mentally ill and mentally disturbed individuals to bring about positive outcomes. The approach looks deep into problems, worries, and fears of individuals through the use of a psychotherapist. A wide range of mental disorders is managed using psychotherapy including depression, schizophrenia and personality disorders. Nursing and counseling theories are widely used in psychiatric care settings to provide therapy to the patients.

Jean Watson’s Nursing Theory

The efficacy of psychotherapy is well established in a variety of mental conditions, but the mechanism in which it functions to reduce symptoms in patients is not well understood. Several theories support psychotherapy from both the nursing and the counseling perspective. Nursing theories explain the caring approaches to human beings that help in reducing or alleviating suffering. The nursing theories are found to be effective in the management of actual mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders as well as emotional disturbances such as divorce, bereavement, stress and also problems with relationships (Wheeler, 2014). There are a lot of nursing theories applicable to psychotherapy, but I find Jean Watson’s philosophy and science of caring to be the best. The theory is mainly concerned with how nurses care for their patients and how the care promotes wellness, health as well as how it alleviates suffering to restore health. Jean Watson’s nursing theory accepts the nurse’s role in the provision of psychological care and also the management of mental illnesses.

Compassion is a trait that is required by all nursing professionals, and Jean Watson’s philosophy and theory of transpersonal caring provide a proof of what nursing care should look like. Many people do not realize the value of nursing because they forget the theoretical perspective of nursing. According to Watson, nursing care is concerned with caring for the sick while promoting health, preventing illness and restoring the health of the individual (Sitzman and Watson, 2013). Medical care does not deal with the emotional perspective of the patient, but nursing care provides a comprehensive and holistic approach that leaves the client satisfied.

Jean Watson’s theory contains four major concepts that describe care provision to the patient. The first concept is the society and Watson depicts that caring exists in every society. The primary role of the nurse is to provide care regarding the cultural beliefs of the individual. I like the theory because of the second concept of Watson which states that human beings are valued people, and they should be assisted, cared for and understood well (Sitzman and Watson, 2013). The third concept describes the value of nursing in promoting health. According to Watson, nursing is a science that deals with personal, ethical and scientific considerations in the provision of care.

The management of psychiatric patients is an approach that uses Watson’s theory. Every patient needs holistic acre and a humanistic approach that promotes healing. The nursing process provided by Watson starts with observation, identification of the problem and formulation of a hypothesis. Jean Watson’s model, therefore, is relevant in the practice of psychotherapy because it assesses all aspects of the person including the environment, perception, and thinking and tries to provide amicable solutions to the problems facing the client. One of the best assumptions in Watson’s theory is that caring is effectively demonstrated and practiced interpersonally. Psychotherapy is an interpersonal approach where the therapist uses knowledge and skills to identify and solve problems facing the patient.

The Humanistic theory of Counseling

Psychotherapy is treatment approach that incorporates counseling in the management of mental illnesses and conditions. The approach provides a framework for counselors and therapists to understand and interpret the patient’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior (Fisher, 2016). The therapists are also able to navigate the patient’s journey throughout admission, assessment, and intervention period and also discharge. The theoretical paradigm provides various counseling techniques or theories used during psychotherapy. Of all the counseling theories available, I find the humanistic approach efficient in the management of psychiatric and mentally disturbed patients. The theory focuses on the current problem rather than the past occurrences to provide care to the patients. I like the theory because it is easily integrated with Jean Watson’s nursing theory of nursing care.

The humanistic theory of counseling uses the phenomenological perspective where the therapist is supposed to see the events exactly the way the client sees them. I like the theory because it is optimistic and it helps people recognize their strengths by offering an empathetic and a non-judgmental experience (Petiprin, 2016). The atmosphere provided by the humanistic approach is different from other theories. The current problem is discussed and viewed from the patient’s perspective making the client be fully integrated again. The history of the humanistic theory is defined by the behavioral and psychoanalytic approaches to mental care. The two models were initially used to treat psychiatric patients, but they offered less concern on how the patient perceived events. The humanistic theory is different, distinct and powerful in the provision of psychotherapy.

Research has indicated that the humanistic therapy offers a person-centered approach to issues affecting people in daily living. Apart from the healthcare setup, the humanistic model is used in institutions such as schools to provide counseling to students.  The only thing that makes the humanistic approach related to Jean Watson’s model is the recognition of people as unique beings. The model believes that the way people behave is entirely controlled by their free will. The solution to the problems affecting people, therefore, lies on the empathic part of psychotherapy. Carl Rodgers developed the humanistic client-centered therapy which states that people control their destinies (Petiprin, 2016). Another humanistic approach is the existential therapy whereby people are seen as self-determiners of their destiny. The theory is therefore observed to care for the individual just as the philosophy of science and nursing care by Jean Watson. Psychotherapy requires skills, and through the humanistic approach, self-growth and actualization of individuals are attained as opposed to the other counseling techniques.

Goals and Objectives

The practicum experience forms an opportunity for developing skills in psychotherapy and interacting with patients. The use of the nursing models and counseling theories poses an opportunity to know patients better at their context while developing skills in psychotherapy. The goals for the practicum experience are as follows:

  • To find out how individuals perceive themselves in the here and now perspective of their lives.
  • To recognize growth, responsibilities and self-direction in patients
  • To bring out and use techniques that will unfold the mind of the clients and help in solving their psychiatric problems.
  • To develop self-confidence, clear thinking and power of thought in managing clients with different psychiatric conditions.

Mental health is the state of well-being in individuals where people can cope with the stresses of daily living, work productively and contribute positively to the environment or the community. Going out to the field for practice requires knowledge and skills about different models and theories of counseling. For the practicum experience, the following objectives will provide guidance. By the end of the practicum experience, I should be able

  • To apply various theories of nursing and counseling in the provision of therapy to the patients.
  • To identify the coping mechanisms of patients and facilitate expression of emotions during the therapy sessions.
  • To link the present and the past of the patient by understanding the feelings, actions, and thoughts of the clients by using the counseling theories.



Fisher, M. A. (2016). Introduction. In Confidentiality limits in psychotherapy: Ethics checklists for mental health professionals (pp. 3–12). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14860-001

Fournier, J. C., & Price, R. B. (2014). Psychotherapy and neuroimaging. Psychotherapy: New Evidence and New Approaches, 12(3), 290–298. Retrieved from

Petiprin, A. (2016). Psychiatric and mental health nursing. Nursing Theory. Retrieved from

Sitzman, K., & Watson, J. (2013). Caring science, mindful practice: Implementing Watson’s human caring theory. Springer Publishing Company.

Wheeler, K. (Eds.). (2014). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.