MFT Exam Prep: Humanistic/Existential Therapy

By Robin Gluck on September 30, 2020


This month, our FREE practice question for the MFT Clinical exam will test your knowledge of Humanistic Existential therapy. Specifically, you will be required to apply your knowledge of this theory to a treatment planning question. Treatment planning questions account for ⅕ of the scored questions on the California MFT Clinical Exam and a similar portion of the overall questions on the National AMFTRB exam.  It’s important you familiarize yourself with this theory and its concepts. Regardless of which of these exams you are preparing for, this FREE MFT practice question can help you as you prepare for your exam!

What does treatment planning include?

Treatment planning questions could test your ability to:

  • Identify and formulate appropriate goals
  • Identify and include adjunctive supports into treatment
  • ­Formulate a treatment plan based on specific theoretical orientations‡


Now that we know what treatment planning questions could cover, let’s consider the theoretical orientation that is also being tested.

A few of the overarching principles of Humanistic/Existential therapies include:

  1. Focus on the here-and-now
  2. Individuals have an innate capacity for self-awareness and choice
  3. Greater concern with the individual(s) rather than the symptom(s)


Let’s test your knowledge of these topics and take a look at this month’s MFT Clinical Exam question.


MFT Clinical Exam Practice Question

A couple is referred to therapy by the husband’s physician. The couple has been married for 7 years and has two young children. The husband underwent chemotherapy for prostate cancer a year prior and is now in full remission. The wife reports that since the husband’s diagnosis he has withdrawn from the family and she feels like a single parent with no support. In addition, she reports a lack of intimacy. The husband explains that his wife just doesn’t understand what he’s been through and expects him to be just the same as he was before. They each express a desire to make their relationship work. Which of the following goals would a Humanistic/Existential Therapist include in their treatment plan? 

A. Increase the husband and wife’s ability to be in the moment and improve the wife’s ability to communicate her needs more effectively with her husband.

B. Expand the couple’s physical and emotional awareness in the moment and assist the couple in understanding their roles and responsibilities within their relationship. 

C. Increase the couple's resources available to resolve relational conflicts and assist the couple in redefining new boundaries.

D. Assist the couple in identifying and expressing anxieties and hopes for self and their relationship and increase their ability to respond to the needs of their partner 

(scroll down for answer and rationale...)

existential therapy

























The correct answer is B.


Answer B incorporates the concepts associated with Humanistic/Existential therapy and includes the couple in both parts of the answer. 


Answer A is incorrect. The first part of the answer is an acceptable goal for Humanistic/Existential, but the second part of the answer is wrong. First, it only focuses on the wife and her ability to communicate her needs with the husband. Since the client is the couple, we want to prioritize answers that incorporate both people. Second, it’s not clear the wife is incapable of communicating her needs. 


Answer C is incorrect. The first part of the answer is acceptable for the theory in question. The second part of the answer is unrelated to Humanistic/Existential therapy and is not an issue in the vignette.


Finally, answer D is incorrect because the first part is more future-focused, rather than in the moment. The second part of the answer is acceptable, but not as strongly linked to the vignette or the theory being tested when compared to answer B.


MFT Clinical Exam Preparation

Did you answer this month’s question on treatment planning and Humanistic/Existential theory correctly? Whether you answered it right or struggled to identify the correct answer, know that TDC is here to help get you ready to pass your exam. Our MFT exam prep courses give you everything you need to be successful on the exam, including both factual content and reasoning skills. One of the best parts of TDC is that you can email your coach anytime you have questions as you go through the program, so you’re never left alone in the studying process. We’ve helped THOUSANDS of MFTs across the nation PASS their exams. Are you ready to pass with confidence?



Commenter Name
October 6, 2020

Thanks, this information was helpful. I didn't do well on this area o n the test.

Commenter Name
February 7, 2021

I'm really happy and thankful that you incorporate the explanation to the question. It helps to listen to your explanation. Thank you

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