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³He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.´ how.´ ~ Nietzsche
Was not founded by any particular person or group. Some key figures were: Ludwig Binswanger, Medard Boss, Victor Frankl, Rollo May, James Bugental, Irvin Yalom Existential personality theory was heavily influenced by a number of philosophers in the 19th century, who were concerned with existence and what it meant to be human.
What existentialism is «
A philosophical view that emphasizes the importance of existence, including one's responsibility for one's own psychological existence.
+reinforcement/-reinforcement/punishment .It is a frame-of-reference or way of viewing and understanding a client¶s suffering . ± Psychoanalysis ± use of transference. freeassociation ± Behaviorism ± stimulus/response.Existentialism continued « Is NOT a technical approach to counseling that offers new rules for therapy.
Existential View of Human Nature Assumption One: As humans. ± It¶s not from instinctual drives (ego & superego) ± It¶s not from significant adults in one¶s early life (need for acceptance and approval) It¶s this anxiety we experience when we are confronted with the givens of our existence . our basic conflict is between ourselves and the ³givens´ of our existence.
2005. responsibility.Existential View of Human Nature Assumption Two: Existing in the world brings about both normal and neurotic anxiety. ³Anxiety arises from our personal need to survive. and to assert our being (Corsini & Wedding. & choice isolation & loving meaning & meaninglessness. 271) Anxiety occurs as we try to deal with important life themes: ± ± ± ± living and dying freedom. to preserve our being. p. .
± We can increase our capacity to live life fully. the greater our possibilities for freedom. ± The greater our self-awareness.Existential View of Human Nature Assumption Three: As humans we have the capacity for self-awareness. .
That person must be understood from the perspective of the here-and-now. . instead there is a focus on experiences in the present.Existential View of Human Nature Assumption Four: If a person is to be understood and helped to understand him/herself. The past is important only insofar as it is part of one¶s current existence. There are no attempts to uncover what happened in the past.
The essence of who we are is never fixed until we die. and becoming (Corey. We are always re-creating ourselves. evolving.Existential View of Human Nature Assumption Five: The significance of our existence (who we are) is never fixed. Resistance to using theorotypes or labels . 2005).
and one's relationship with the world.Major Concepts Being-in-the world = examining oneself. thus attaining higher levels of consciousness (Dasein). others. Four ways of being-in-the world: ± Umwelt ± Mitwelt ± Eigenwelt ± Uberwelt .
attending to the biological and physical aspects of the world ± biological needs. . The focus is on human relationships rather than relationships that are biological or physical (Umwelt). Mitwelt ± ³with-world´ : A way in which individuals relate to the world by interacting socially with others.Major Concepts continued « Umwelt -³world around´: Relating to the world of objects around us (environment). drives. & instincts.
the way an individual wants the world to be. Uberwelt: Religious or spiritual beliefs about the ideal world. It is a self-awareness and self-relatedness that is unique to human beings.Major Concepts cont« Eigenwelt ± ³own world´: It is the perception of what something in the world means to each individual observer. .
Major Concepts cont« Normal anxiety: it¶s appropriate to the situation. we also become aware of the responsibility for those choices. Existential anxiety: consciousness of our own freedom to make choices. it is repressed. As we become aware of the choices we have. Neurotic anxiety: is not appropriate to the situation. It tends to paralyze a person rather than stimulate creativity. it is destructive not constructive. and. it does not require repression -.we can come to terms with it. It also comes from dealing with unforeseen forces (the thrown condition) and is a significant subset of normal anxiety . it can be used creatively and may encourage us to identify and confront whatever is causing the anxiety in the first place.
Major Concepts cont« Guilt: like anxiety can take normal and neurotic forms. 2005. ± Another form of guilt ± failure to live up to our potentialities. . ± Normal guilt ± sensitizes us to the moral aspects of our behavior. If you lock up your potentialities you are guilty for not fulfilling what is given to you in your origin. pg. 272). ± Neurotic guilt ± often arises out of fantasized transgressions. in your ³core´ (Corsini & Wedding.
Unforeseen forces or events in the world that one does not cause. . It¶s the idea that we will be victimized by our circumstances. 2005). I choose my own being´ (Corsini & Wedding.Major Concepts cont« Thrown Condition . until we realize that « ³I am the one living and experiencing. The ³I-Am´ Experience ± this realization of one¶s being.
and being human. Authentic individuals deal with moral choices. Going beyond one's own needs to take responsibility for others or to see the world in different ways. Authenticity: Being genuine and real.Major Concepts cont« Boundary situation: an experience that compels an individual to deal with an existential situation (confrontation with one¶s own death) Self-transcendence: Going beyond one's immediate situation to understand one's being and to take responsibility for that being. as well as aware of one's being. . the meaning of life.
Yalom (1981) identified four (4) ultimate concerns . then we must confront ³ultimate concerns´ that are an inescapable part of our existence in the world.Givens of the Human Condition If we put aside everyday concerns « and reflect deeply upon our situation in the world.
Death We will all die. This realization haunts us and so we erect defenses to keep these thoughts out of our awareness. . ± These defenses are denial based and can become maladaptive. there is no escape. Psychopathology (symptoms & maladaptive behavior) has origins in a person¶s terror of death.
± If we create our own world and our own meaning of the world.Freedom vs. than there is no ground beneath us: there is only nothingness. 280). 2005. Responsibility ± we do things to avoid it ± Displace it onto other people. circumstances. p. Conflict between awareness of freedom/groundlessness vs. etc. a need for ground and structure. own life design. Responsibility Each person is ultimately responsible for and the author of his/her own world. ± Deny it (even though they have set certain events into motion) ± Shuck it (being irrational or in a state where they are not accountable for their behavior) . and own choices and actions (Corsini & Wedding.
affect. . there remains an unbridgeable gap. Existential isolation: no matter how closely we relate to another individual. but we alone experience death.Isolation Interpersonal isolation: gulf between self and other people (lack in social skills and fear of intimacy) Intrapersonal isolation: isolated from parts of ourselves (experience. We enter existence alone We must die alone ± people may be there with us when we die. desire) that are dissociated out of awareness.
soften ego boundaries and become part of another individual.Isolation continued « This fear of existential isolation (and the defenses we erect against it) underlies a great deal of interpersonal psychopathology (Corsini & Wedding. ± May attempt to deal with isolation through fusion -. and become like everyone else and avoid isolation of the lonely self. We may form relationships with others for some function (a defense against isolation). rather than out of caring for that person¶s being. etc. cause. 2005). Or fuse with a group. .
In a chaotic world. we search for an explanation or a meaning for our existence. From this meaning schema we generate a hierarchy of values. These values give us a blueprint for life ± not only a why we live but how to live. We strive to organize and lend meaning to our experiences.Meaninglessness If we all die « If we all create our own world « and if each of us is ultimately alone « then what possible meaning can life have? As humans we require meaning. There is this dilemma resulting from: how we as humans require meaning and find meaning in a universe that has no meaning? . If there is no preordained design in life. then we must construct our own meaning in life.
. These defense mechanisms provide safety/security. but they also restrict our growth.Theory of Illness Awareness of ultimate concerns Anxiety Defense Mechanism We engage in defense mechanisms to deal/cope with the anxiety we experience.
and May result in further secondary anxiety .Theory of Illness cont « These defense mechanisms may be ineffective or maladaptive. They may provide only temporary respite from anxiety. but Ultimately cripple a person¶s ability to live fully (authentically) and creatively.
Theory of Cure A person must embark on a journey of self-investigation where the goals are: ± Understand the unconscious conflict. ± Develop other ways of coping with primary anxiety so that this person can live life more fully or authentically. ± Identify the maladaptive defense mechanisms ± Diminish secondary anxiety by correcting these maladaptive ways of dealing with self and others. .
± Responsibility confront how they avoid it ± Isolation confronting this in small doses The nature of the therapist-client relationship is fundamentally important in and of itself. ± Yalom stated ³it is the relationship that heals´ .Theory of Cure cont « The existential therapist strives to understand a person¶s current life situation and current unconscious fears related to the ultimate concerns or givens.
Goals of Therapy Does not have the goal of immediately alleviating a person¶s anxiety. Help client¶s live their lives more authentically . Help client¶s discover and find a meaning or purpose that transcends themselves. Instead there is a goal to promote greater personal growth. To help client¶s understand and confront the ways they avoid dealing with existential anxiety related to the human existence. which leads to symptom alleviation.
authentic therapist-patient encounter. .Techniques They may employ a variety of techniques used in other approaches insofar as they are consistent with basic existential presuppositions and a human.
³Mans Search for Meaning´) . ± Unlike other existential therapists he developed a form of therapy that uses specific techniques that a therapist might use with clients (Logotherapy. Yalom ± emphasizes four ultimate concerns and discusses the importance of living life authentically. Frankl ± emphasized the importance of people finding meaning or purpose in their lives.Existential Therapists Different existential therapists may emphasize different aspects of existential concerns.
. also called guided discovery.Logotherapy Concepts A type of existential therapy that focuses on challenging clients to search for meaning in their lives. Paradoxical intention: A therapeutic strategy in which clients are instructed to engage in and exaggerate behaviors they seek to change. therapists make patients more aware of their situation and help them achieve distance form symptoms. By prescribing the symptom. Dereflection: A technique in which clients focus away from their problems instead of on them to reduce anxiety. Socratic dialogue: A series of questions designed to help the client arrive at logical answers to and conclusions about a certain hypothesis.
trained in different modalities of treatment may in fact employ some aspects of an existential approach from time to time. many therapists. Thus. .Existential Therapists cont « Other existential therapists may focus on ³thrown conditions´ that can lead to ³restricted existences´ ± Confront how they are living life in a restricted or stuck fashion (inauthentic) and help them become aware of their own part in it and increase their options.
Case Study What are the underlying causes of this client¶s symptoms? What would you focus on in your work with this client? What interventions or techniques would you use? What are the goals of counseling? .
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