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INTRODUCTION

Existential therapy
- more a way of thinking, or an attitude about psychotherapy

- Best described as philosophical approach

- Goal: assist clients in their exploration of the existential givens of


life

- Grounded on the assumption that we are free

- Authors and designers of our life


INTRODUCTION
Basic existential premise: we are not victims of circumstance
because to a large extent, we are what we choose to be

First step in the therapeutic journey: for clients to accept


responsibility

Aim of existential therapy: to explore their values and beliefs


and take action

Therapists basic task: to consider what they are most serious


about so they can pursue a direction in life
KEY FIGURES
Viktor Frankl
Rollo May
Irvin Yalom
James Bugental
Emmy van Deurzen
EXISTENTIAL PSYCHOTHERAPISTS
Soren Kierkegaard
Friedrich Nietzche
Martin Heidegger
Martin Buber
Ludwig Binswanger
Medard Boss
Jean-Paul Sartre
SOREN KIERKEGAARD
SOREN KIERKEGAARD
Angst- meaning lies between dread and anxiety

Role of anxiety and uncertainty in life

Existential therapy- associated with making


basic
decisions about how we want to
live
- Not pathological

Anxiety- school in which we are educated to be a


self
SOREN KIERKEGAARD
the sickness unto death arises
when we are not true to ourselves

BECOMING HUMAN IS A PROJECT,


AND OUR TASK IS NOT SO MUCH
TO DISCOVER WHO WE ARE AS TO
CREATE OURSELVES
FRIEDRICH NIETZCHE
FRIEDRICH NIETZCHE
Iconoclastic

Subjectivity

Located values within the individuals


will to power

Pioneered analyses of anxiety,


depression, subjectivity, and the
authentic self
MARTIN HEIDEGGER
MARTIN HEIDEGGER
Phenomenological existentialism
we exist in the world and should not try
to think of ourselves as beings apart
from the world into which we are thrown

- Does not focus on past events but


motivates individuals to look
forward to authentic
experiences

Moods and feelings as ways of


understanding
MARTIN BUBER
MARTIN BUBER
less individualistic

We live in a kind of betweenness: there is


never just an I, but always an other

Must have many I/it interactions in everyday


life

Therapist and the client could never be on


the same footing

Dialogic condition
MARTIN BUBER
Importance of presence:

1. Enables true I/ Thou relationships

2. Allows for meaning to exist in a


situation

3. Enables an individual to be
responsible in the here and now
LUDWIG BINSWANGER
LUDWIG BINSWANGER
Holistic model of self

Phenomenological approach

Also believed that we are thrown into


the world

Existential analysis (daseinanalysis)


- Emphasizes the subjective and
spiritual dimensions of human
existence
MEDARD BOSS
MEDARD BOSS
Dasein- being-in-the-world
- Ability to reflect on life events and
attribute meaning to these events

They believed the therapist must enter the


clients subjective world without
presuppositions that would get in the way
of this experiential understanding.

Therapeutic practice was concerned with


integrating Freuds methods with
Heideggers concepts
JOHN-PAUL SARTRE
JOHN-PAUL SARTRE
Humans are even more free

Existence of a space-nothingness
between the whole of our past and
the now frees us to choose what we
will. (Freedom- Choice)

Bad faith
JOHN-PAUL SARTRE
To choose is to become committed
(Freedom-commitment)

At every moment, by our actions, we


are choosing who we are being

Our existence is never fixed or


finished

Self deception- attempt to pin down


or deceiving who we are
VIKTOR FRANKL
VIKTOR FRANKL
We could preserve a vestige
of spiritual freedom and
independence of mind

the last of human


freedoms to choose ones
attitude in any given set of
circumstances, to choose
ones own way
VIKTOR FRANKL
Essence of being human lies
in searching for meaning and
purpose

Actions and deeds


Experiencing a value
(love or achievements)
Suffering
VIKTOR FRANKL
Emphasized the concepts of
freedom, responsibility,
meaning, and the search for
values

Founder of Third school of


Viennese Psychanalysis

Logotherapy- therapy
through meaning
VIKTOR FRANKL
Central themes:

Life has meaning


Will to meaning
Freedom to find
meaning
Integrate body, mind and
spirit
ROLLO MAY
ROLLO MAY
Concern is with the nature of human
experience

Believed that psychotherapy should


be aimed at helping people discover
the meaning of their lives and should
be concerned with the problems of
being rather than with problem
solving

It takes courage to be; our choices


determine the kind of person we
ROLLO MAY
Real challenge: For people to be
able to live in a world where they are
alone and where they will eventually
have to face death
IRVIN YALOM
IRVIN YALOM
Reading fiction is a source of
inspiration and wisdom to him

Basic philosophy is existential and


interpersonal

4 givens of existence:

1. Freedom and responsibility


2. Existential isolation
3. Meaninglessness
4. Death
JAMES BUGENTAL
JAMES BUGENTAL
Life-changing psychotherapy-
effort to help clients examine how
they have answered lifes existential
questions and to invite them revise
their answers so they can live more
authentically

Emphasized the distinction between


therapeutic process and content

Existential-humanistic
psychotherapy
JAMES BUGENTAL
Cultivation of both client and therapist
presence

Therapists primary task: helping


clients make new discoveries abt
themselves in the living moment

Resistance to being fully present


both during the therapy hour and in
life

Here-and-now dialogue
EMILY VAN DEURZEN
EMMY VAN DEURZEN
Existential therapy is not designed
to cure people of illness bc people
are not sick medically but sick of life
or clumsy at living

Her psychotherapy taught her that


individuals have incredible resilience
and intelligence in overcoming their
problems once they commit
themselves to a self-searching
process
Proposition 4:
The Search for Meaning
Proposition 4:
The Search for Meaning

Why am I here?
What do I want from
life?
The struggle for a sense of
significance & purpose in life.

Meaning in life is an ongoing


process we struggle with throughout
our life.
Client tries to discard old values, and
the therapist trusts that the client can
create a new value system coherent with
the clients life purpose.

Meaninglessness can lead to emptiness,


hollowness, or a condition called
Existential Vacuum, which is often
experienced when people do not busy
themselves with routine & with work.

Existential neurosis - the experience of


meaninglessness
Creating New Meaning

Logotherapy
designed to help clients
find meaning in life.
They can create meaning
even in suffering.
Existential anxiety - the unavoidable result of
being confronted with the "givens of
existence," such as death, freedom, etc.
This concept says anxiety is something that becomes
greater as we realize our freedoms and consequences
of accepting or rejecting that freedom (Corey,
2012).

Anxiety is seen as a potential source of growth.


PROPOSITION 5:
ANXIETY AS A CONDITION OF LIVING

Normal Anxiety
appropriate response to an event
being faced. A powerful motivational
force toward change & growth.
can be relieved if the objective
situation is altered.

Neurotic Anxiety
anxiety that is out of proportion. It
tends to immobilize the person.
the reaction is disproportionate to
the objective danger because some
intrapsychic conflict is involved
The existential therapist can help clients
recognize that learning how to tolerate
ambiguity and uncertainty can be a necessary
phase in the journey of dependence to
autonomy.
An existentialist does not think of
death as a negative thing, but that
death gives significance to living. An
important human characteristic is the
ability to understand the reality of
death and dying

Awareness of death is the source of zest


for life and creativity. Death & life
are interdependent and though physical
death destroys us, the idea of death
saves us.