Existential Therapy - Corey Chapter 6

Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychology

Terms in this set (...)

Existential Therapy
More of a philosophical approach that influences a counselor's therapeutic practice.
Existential therapy focuses on
exploring themes such as mortality, meaning, freedom, responsibility, anxiety, and aloneness as these relate to a person's current struggle.
Existential therapy is grounded on
the assumption that we are free and therefore responsible for our choices and actions.
Goal of existential therapy
assist clients in their exploration of the existential "givens of life", how these are sometimes ignored or denied, and how addressing them can ultimately lead to a deeper, more reflective and meaningful existence.
existential analysis
emphasizes the subjective and spiritual dimensions of human existence.
Victor Frankl
a central figure in developing existential therapy in Europe and also in bringing it to the US. Developed logotherapy.
Developed by Viktor Frankl, a brand of existential therapy that literally means "healing through reason"; focuses on challenging members to search for the meaning in life.
Rollo May
one of the key figures responsible for bringing existentialism from europe to US. "It takes courage to be and our choices determine the kind of person we become."
Irvin Yalom
developed his approach to individual and group psychotherapy based on the notion that existialism deals with basic given's of existence".
existential tradition
seeks a balance between recognizing the limits and tragic dimesions of human existence on one hand and the possibilities and opportunities of human life on the other hand.
Capacity for Self-Awareness
freedom, choice, and responsibility. Both free (choice) and limited (environmental and social constraints). amount of awareness = amount of possibilities for freedom. Aim of counseling is awareness (includes awareness of alternatives, motivations, factors that influence us, and personal goals).
Six Basic Dimensions of Human Condition
1. Capacity for self-awareness
2. Tension between freedom and responsibility
3. Creation of an identity and establishing meaningful relationships
4. The search for meaning
5. Accepting anxiety as a condition of living
6. Awareness of death and Non-being
Freedom and Responsibility
The freedom to become within the context of natural and self-imposed limitations which shape our destiny. The capacity to reflect the meaning of our choices and to act on the choices we make. Avoided by making excuses.
implies that we are responsible for our lives for our actions, and for our failures to take action.
not accepting personal responsibility due to lack of awareness and belief that our lives are controlled by external forces.
existential guilt
being aware of having evaded a committment or having chosen not to chose. Guilt is a result not rising to the challenge
we are living by being true to our own evaluation of what is a valuable existence for ourselves. courage to be who we are.
Striving for identity and relationship to others
Discovery of self. Takes effort and courage to discover if we are more than a collection of others' beliefs. For we fear that we have no core.
the Search for Meaning
Goals deal with discarding old values, coping with meaninglessness, and creating new meaning. Meaning is pursued obliquely (by-product of engagement).
Anxiety as a Condition of Living
Recognizing the realities of our mortality, our confrontation with pain and suffering, our need to struggle for survival, and our basic fallibility. Anxiety helps us become aware of our freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom.
existential vacuum
A condition of emptiness and hollowness that results from meaninglessness in life.
normal anxiety
healthy life force that is necessary for survival; provides energy needed to carry out the tasks involved in living and striving toward goals; motivates people to make and survive change; prompts constructive behaviors.
existential anxiety
An outcome of being confronted with the existential givens and our freedom to choose and responsibility on our own person and destiny.
neurotic anxiety
anxiety about concrete things that is out of proprtion to the situation. Typically comes out of awareness and it tends to immobilize the person.
Awareness of death and nonbeing
the awareness of death as a basic human condition gives significance to living. Distinguishing human characteristics is the ability to grasp the reality of future and the inevitability of death. Death is positive force that gives meaning to life. Death is motivation to take advantage of the present. Those who fear death also fear life.
restricted existence
have a limited awareness of themselves and are often vague about the nature of their problems.
Tasks of Existential Therapist
1. recognize how they have evaded responsibility (others have made choices for them) and 2. encourage them to take steps toward choosing for themselves (rise to the challenge to change your life).
existential givens
death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness.
Existential Perspective on Human Nature
no fixed view on human nature, depends on one's particular view of existentialism.
existential approach
freedom that every human being has to choose his or her own values and meaning in life.
being in the world: humans have no meaning without world, world has no meaning without humans. Implies a dynamic state. a constant becoming and growing.
Existential: 3 levels to how we relate to the world
vein-in-nature, being-with-others, and being-for-oneself. (fourth: one's ideal world)
Lying (existentialism)
root of psychopathology because we are avoiding existential anxiety which results in an imbalance in how we relate to the world. (lying to self, others, nature.)
techniques used in logotherapy
socratic dialogue. paradoxical intention, dereflection, and attitude modification.
socratic dialogue
A process that cognitive therapists use in helping clients empirically test their core beliefs. Clients form hypotheses about their behavior through observation and monitoring.
paradoxical intention
a therapeutic strategy in which the client is instructed to engage in or magnify the behaviors of concern.
redirecting the attention away from the self, thinking about others rather than themselves; stop thinking of self as diagnosis and instead working towards the search for meaning.
attitude modification
modifying or changing client's attitudes or thinking about something that can't be changed so more meaningful perspectives can emerge.
Strengths of Existential Therapy
focuses on the person. Therapist has genuine respect for the person, deals with core human issues (death, meaning), therapist as wounded healer.
Weaknesses of Existential Therapy
theoretical concepts vague, therapy can be confrontational depending on therapist, issues may not be interested in being explored, no therapeutic techniques or structure, typically time consuming.
Biblical Perspective
Plus (questions on existence, therapeutic agape love)
Negative (meaning found in Jesus, real agape love can only be given by the Holy Spirit, therapist can inadvertently influence client away form God, God is center not self)