Ch. 5 Viktor Frankl Existential Therpay
Terms in this set (33)
("meaning therapy"). This approach would later be called the "third wave" of Viennese psychology", following Freud and Adler's approaches.
the world is an absurd place into which we are thrust against our will, anxiety is a natural part of living, self-awareness and consciousness should not be assumed, reality is a self-created subjective experience, relationships are critical to who we are and who we become, and the choices each person makes determines his or her essence ("existence proceeds essence"). Openness and self-disclosure on the part of the therapist are critical to the therapeutic process and likely to lead to the same on the part of the client.
The importance of choices
Whether there is a broader meaning to existence, one will never know, and although some may choose to have faith in something "more", such beliefs are unfathomable constructs the cannot be proven (agnostic). Since life has no inherent meaning, each of us is charged with he responsibility of making it meaningful through the choices we make. Existentialists reject the notion that we are determined by early childhood development, instincts, or intrapsychic forces, although talking about the past is not avoided if the client believes it would help him or her understand the self in a more meaningful way.
Existential therapists suggest that in dialogue with others, people can gain a greater awareness of the choices they have made and can begin to direct their lives toward a more purposeful, meaningful, and authentic existence by making new choices that involve facing life's struggles honestly and directly. With this awareness, however, comes a great sense of responsibility, as one comes to realize that every choice made affects ourselves, those close to us, and to some degree, all people on the planet, as each decision has a ripple effect throughout the world.
Difference between Existentialism and Humanism
existential therapies tend to directly focus on "existential issues" and discuss with clients such topics as how they make sense of their lives in light of their eventual demise, how they deal with their aloneness in the world, or how they make meaning in their lives. Humanistic approaches tend to have clients self-direct their sessions and believe that people are born with an inherent growth force that will lead them toward a state of self-actualization and harmony with self if they are in an environment that allows the clients to access their true self.
each thought, reflection, and experience a person has should be understood as meaningful and provide a window into that person's understanding of truth.
death and non-being
one of the goals of existential therapy is to help the client see how he or she has avoided the anxiety of the knowledge of death and non-being; that is, to assist the client in understanding what mechanism he or she has used to avoid knowledge of his or her demise. And, knowledge of avoidance mechanisms brings the client face-to-face with his or her death anxiety.
Sometimes individuals are oppressed by external factors, such as slavery, poverty, war, and disasters. But once one comes to recognize that freedom is as much of an internal process as an external one, then one can begin to take steps toward ultimate freedom—freedom from self-created internal constraints. And, it is at this point that one can gain mastery over every step taken, every though that occurs, every feeling that is expressed, and every attitude that is chosen.
can be understood on two levels— responsibility towards the self, and towards others. Responsibility toward the self is intimately associated with one's awareness that freedom is internally created. With this knowledge, every choice made then becomes one that is directly related to living a dignified life with purpose. Having consciousness that every action we take will affect those around us, and likely impact the world in some fashion, is a monumental weight that carries within it a humbling responsibility.
Mechanisms used to avoid responsibility include: Compulsivity, displacement, playing the victim, losing control, avoiding autonomy, willing denial, physical disease.
This is the quality of becoming so consumed with an activity that a person avoids examining his or her life. The "activity" overwhelms the person. Examples include compulsive eating, compulsive sex, working long hours, etc.
This is the process of placing one's problems or issues onto others or other things so that one does not have to take responsibility for examining them. Examples include projecting one's issues onto others, having a psychosomatic illness in an effort to avoid one's issues, blaming others for one's problems, or blaming events for one's problems.
Playing the victim
Ultimately, if one is to live a life with purpose and meaning, one has to make good choices despite these unfortunate or even traumatic events (rape, racist boss, child abuse).
"Lost their minds" and went crazy for a while, "los their temper", or "lost their way", these are mechanisms some people will use to avoid taking responsibility for their current state of affairs.
Some people know exactly what they need to do but don't do it. They feel too tired, too stuck, too unwilling to move forward. Try to motivate these individuals, and they will have a reason for not moving ahead (avoiding making choices).
if I numb myself to my existence, I am not allowing myself to be open to the possibilities that exist. I am willing myself into the denial of my experience. Or, if I live in a fantasy world, I am not facing my choices. Instead, I am willing myself into a world where reality and choices are askew. Bringing consciousness to this kind of resistance is critical to the change process.
There is enough scientific evidence to suggest that many diseases are an outgrowth of the behaviors that we manifest. Heart disease, some forms of cancer, colds from lowered immune systems due to stress, and many other illnesses hav been shown to be related to the kinds of choices that one makes. Sometimes, having a disease may seem easier than taking responsibility for one's life.
Isolation from oneself occurs when a person ignores a part of self to the point that he or she is no longer aware of that part. To some degree, we have all done this, such as times when we may have ignored a particularly abusive remark. Some, however, deny major parts of themselves in an effort to separate themselves from a particularly painful event or trauma. Such separation from oneself results in an inauthentic way of being as the individual unconsciously avoids the part that has been denied. Existence isolation is the realization that we are born alone, will die alone, and ultimately live alone, although we will have important events when we encounter others.
To know meaning in life is to also know meaninglessness—to get in touch with that naked infant willing to experience the absurdity of a world that has no meaning (letting go of our values, faith, and beliefs, and being). Once we can get in touch with this place within, we can reestablish contact with ourselves and begin to make new choices that will bring meaning and joy to our lives. This is true meaningfulness.
Existential and Neurotic Anxiety
Existential anxiety ("angst") is the anxiety that is experienced from one's realization of one's aloneness, the meaninglessness of life, and the knowledge of one's death. It is natural and normal to experience anxiety that results from our realization that we are ultimately alone, that we must be the ones to make our lives meaningful, and that we will have to face death.
Neurotic anxiety occurs as a product of the mechanisms that are developed to avoid facing the essential existential issues of life and the existential anxiety associated with it. How these mechanisms are developed is not as critical as the fact that they are used to avoid an individual's angst. The mechanisms noted earlier to avoid responsibility are generally used in the development of such neurotic anxiety.
Neurotic or Moral Guilt
is the remorseful feeling one has from having behaved in a manner that is damaging to the self or to others. Like the sex addict who continually goes back to his computer porn, the alcoholic who has to take another drink, or the abusive lover who becomes enraged, these individuals have developed as set of neurotic behaviors that prevent them from reflecting on the meaning of their existence.
it is experienced when one gets beyond one's neurotic guilt to a deeper lever of awareness—where there is a realization that one has not lived to one's fullest potential due to avoidance of dealing with core life issues and its associated existential anxiety. It is the guilt the abuser would have if he or she could realize the abuse was a mechanism of avoiding deeper reflection and a means of not making a more meaningful lfie. It is the guilt that one can and should ultimately experience in therapy if the client is courageous enough to embrace how he or she has avoided consciousness and, as a result, has made irresponsible choices.
Will to Meaning
Frankl and other existential therapists believe that meaningfulness only comes with a deliberate effort on the part of the individual. This will to meaning is an active process that each person can choose upon realizing he or she has the power to define his or her sense of purpose. And, this will to meaning can only be developed after the individual has sorted through his or her neurotic lifestyle and neurotic guilt, faced his or her existential anxiety and existential guilt, and become increasingly aware of his or her true inner core. In contrast, the person who has chosen not to take this journey is forever participating in behaviors that are self-destructive and destructive to others.
living "authentically" means acceptance of our existential existence, awareness of our death and non-being, and being willing to be honest with ourselves and open with others. It means that we actively take responsibility for our lives as we consciously take steps toward being psychologically free and finding meaningfulness.
From an existential therapy perspective, this method of discussion and reasoning includes showing respect for the client, encouraging an open dialogue between the client and therapist, and providing an accepting atmosphere that allows for philosophical discourse about the meaning of life.
Educating the Client about Existential therapy philosophy, and developing an authentic relationship
some therapists may simply talk to their clients about the philosophy inherent in the approach, such as death and non-being, the power and responsibility we have to make choices that can better ourselves and others, and the importance of being authentic. Other therapists may encourage client to read books or watch movies.
Key to helping a client understand himself is the therapist's ability at developing an authentic therapeutic relationship that is similar to what Martin Buber called the I-Thou relationship. Highlighted by a "give-and-take", free-flowing conversation that is devoid of facades and marked by authenticity and realness, such a relationship contrasts with an I-It relationship, where the client is objectified, as in the case with a therapist who diagnoses the client, is emotionally removed from the client, and uses techniques "on" the client. The therapeutic relationship is purposefully focused on the main counseling goal of helping the client learn about self.
Listening, showing empathy, being nonjudgmental, and inquiring a phenomenological perspective
Using what's called a phenomenological perspective to gain a deep understanding of the client's subjective experience of the world, the therapist will listen intensely, show empathy to ensure deep understanding of the client, and ask questions to inquire about the clients perspective while being nonjudgmental.
Understand four aspects of the client's world to understand the person fully:
Umwelt is how our biological organism (unique interests, bodily functions, senses) interacts and is influenced by our environment and comes to understand the world (consider how lead in the water and climate change impacts each of us)
Mitwelt is the manner in which the client comes to make sense of his or her interpersonal and social world, such as family, community, culture, society, and the therapeutic relationship itself.
Eigenwelt is the way the client comes to understand his or her inner world.
Uberwelt is the manner in which we relate to the spiritual aspect of ourselves, or to the unknown.
As clients increasingly examine their worldviews, they will undoubtedly begin to challenge how they have been living their lives, will feel moral and existential guilt, and becomes self-critical. Often, deeply embedded ways of behaving that have been harmful to self and others will be unearthed. A these junctures, it is critical that the therapist demonstrates acceptance and allows the client to continue to discuss his or her former ways of being as he or she begins to embark on a way of being in the world.
The Therapeutic Process
Phase I, Contact: acknowledgment of different world views between client and therapist; initial education about existential principles.
Phase II, Understanding: therapist tries to clearly understand the worldview of the client
Phase III, Education and Integration: therapist continues to educate the client, the therapist gently challenges the client to embrace the worldview that is based on the underlying philosophy of existential therapy.
Phase IV, Awareness: client understands the basic philosophy of existential therapy, begins the process of becoming conscious of how he or she has avoided existential angst and guilt and has instead developed neurotic ways of living due to not taking responsibility of his/her choices
Phase V, Self-Acceptance: Awareness of how one has avoided existential angst and guilt eventually leads to acceptance of the kinds of harmful neurotic behaviors that the client has embraced.
Phase VI, Responsibility: the client realizes that neurotic behaviors are self-imposed and that he/she is solely responsible for bringing meaning, dignity, love, and joy to life
Phase VII, Choice and Freedom: Realizing that we alone are responsible for our lives, the client can being to make conscious choices that free the client from his/her self-imposed neurotic constraints
Phase VIII, Separation: client begins to live authentically and responsibly, he or she consciously chooses behaviors that will positively impact the self and others. Client does not need therapy, and can also separate from other people in their life in order to be more authentic
can occur in many ways and, depending on the style of the particular existential therapist, the level of confrontation can vary dramatically. However, for most existential therapists, confrontation involves gently challenging the client about the kinds of choices he or she has made to bring purpose and meaningfulness in his or her life.
Throughout the therapeutic-process, the clients are encouraged to self-reflect, consider the choices they have made, and work on the continual struggles of living. They are reminded that life is not trouble-free, and that although it sometimes seems easier to avoid life's difficulties than to face them head-on, ultimately, there is a price to pay for such an unconscious existence.
Frankl suggested intentionally try to make an unwanted symptom occur more often (a germ aphobe is told to wash his or her hands more). Similar to what many therapists now call "Prescribing the symptom" for some unclear reason, prescribing the symptom seems to actually reduce its occurrence. This may be because the client suddenly realizes the absurdity of the symptom, or that by doing it more, the client comes to see that he or she can actually control it.
The phobic becomes more reclusive for fear of a panic attack. This never-ending cycle prevents the individual from examining core issues related to how one creates meaning in life and precludes the individual from experiencing the existential void that exists in all of us. In order to prevent this kind of obsessive focus, de-reflection, sometimes simply called refocusing, can assist the individual in developing a more meaningful existence.
Social, Cultural, and Spiritual Issues
How a client makes sense of the world is partly a function of the messages that the client received relative to his or her ethnicity, cultural background, and sociological practices, as well as the political atmosphere of the times. Awareness of pervasive discrimination, sexism, and racism helps the client manage how to respond to such attitudes and behaviors. A client's spirituality is directly related to how a client finds meaning, defines his or her personal value system, and establishes loving relationships and the manner in which he or she gives to society.
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THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
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Ch. 3 Carl Jung "Analytical Therapy"