Existential Therapy Existential therapy helps people who has uncertainties, anxiety depression, grieve and depression. Problems can distract a person life and essential of living. Sometimes it is hard to become stable possessing core cognitions, cognitive distortions thoughts and feeling on how a person views the world and themselves, which points out low self-esteem. Cognitive distortions are mainly negative thoughts of self, guiltiness that leads to uncertainties emotions and actions. Cognitive behavior focuses on results reinforcements and monitor behaviors. Existential therapy enables people to change and become aware and self actualized. Existential therapy is suitable for people who are open to new ideas and seeking greater meaning in their lives, especially for people who are struggling with suffering of loss, disabilities, illness, anxiety and depression” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). In the above paragraphs existential therapy will be define through the history of the development of the therapy, the beliefs on which it is based, the important contributors or practitioners of the therapy, the theory of helping, the relationship between the helper and the clients, some techniques or approaches developed.
The kinds of problems addresses, multicultural issues in using these approaches and research finding on the theory. According to Seligman, and Reichenberg (2010) Existential Therapy is more like philosophy than that of any other treatment that can be considered. The text states that because of wars and other events that have happened over the years anxiety has stricken. The fear of death and loneliness is common and this is what this particular type of therapy is geared toward. Existential Therapy covers not only “death, but suffering love and meaning as well” (Seligman, & Reichenberg, 2010, p. 170).
There were several people involved in the development of the Existential Therapy. One of the most influential was Viktor Frankl. This individual was a doctor who believed that everything in life had meaning (Seligman, & Reichenberg, 2010). Another was Rollo May he focused on the anxiety that people go through with change, growth, and loneliness. This is what he wrote about for many years. He brought existentialism to the United States (Bily, Susan Jean, 2003). Each of these writers was influentially writing in the early 1900’s. Irvin Yalom took an approach using both of the previous writers mentioned and coming p with his own theories.
This writer was more prominent in the late 1900’s. Irvin believed that confronting our fears such as death will allow us to be more comfortable with the idea (Seligman, & Reichenberg, 2010). Although the thought process began in the early 1900’s the text states that Existential therapy began in Europe in the 1940’s and 50’s. Due to the war the need for reassurance was crucial (Seligman, & Reichenberg, 2010, p. 173). It seems as though this form of therapy has declined since the 60’s. Although not the most common type of therapy it gives people faith and hope in the meaning of life.
Although Existential theory has been discussed for many of centuries, it is still the topic of major studies. Existential theory is not perfect and can have difficulty in formation among therapy and client. Existential theory focuses on the relating to dealing with now and today. The kinds of problems addressed with existential theory are anxiety, guilt, alienation, spiritual, mental health and substance abuse. Anxiety is the key problem associated with existential theory. Existential theory allows the client to be face with the problem before going in further into treatment.
It forces you to be honest about your fears and thought in an effort to help you recognize them so that you can deal and find solutions. The Journal of Mental Health Counseling cited, “Existential therapy deals with a basic anxiety that comes out of each person’s accomplishment and undertakings- conscious and unconscious- to deal with the complex facts of life that are rooted in the person’s existence” (Yalom, 1980). The theory of existential therapy focus on value, environmental factors, confrontation, and the person entire context of their life in order to face relating factors dealing with existence.
It is also based on life experiences. “The question is not so much to avoid it as it is how to face it with openness and a willingness to engage with life rather than a tendency to retreat, withdrawn or refrain from responsibilities” (Mulhauser, 2010). Existential theory appears to be a good approach when treating substance abuse, it faces the inner thoughts and causes to the substance abuse. In some cases, people try to treat substance abuse by attending 12-steps program in which they can and do help, however the root of the problem that caused the substance abuse s sometimes not discovered. Therapy is essential only with attending substance abuse treatment programs. A person can suffer from low self-esteem and only feel good when they are under the influence of a substance, the self-esteem, depression, and any other mental health issue should be address to treat that cause and then work towards the treating of the substance abuse. Substance abuse can be environmental and cover up with mental health issues. Existential theory approach is looking at the problem so that the process of solution building can form.
Clinician and client’s awareness are essential to maintain a relationship that begins with the main instrument of change. “Existential therapy is more a philosophy than a structure treatment system,” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010) it seeks to overcome suffering, death, love and spirituality. Existentialism was developing to help people with the devastation of what left behind. “ Clinician and clients relationship are the primary instrument of change, establishing of a genuine, caring, supportive, and authentic clients clinician relationship is essential in this treatment model” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010).
The relationship among the clinician and client is important because the roots of making a change begins, in other words like parent teach his or her children to walk, talk and behave the clinician will help the client reinforce awareness on “what they are doing to get them out of the victim role” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). The clinician rile is not to cure but to listen and observe how the clients thoughts and feeling are affecting their emotions. Clinician should, implicitly and explicitly wonder about the patients belief systems, inquire deeply into the loving of another ask about long range hopes, goals and explore creative interest and pursuits” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). The clinician is focus on emotions to help the clients encourage “freedom, responsibility, authenticity, positive relationships and actualization” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). Some techniques or approaches develop in existential therapy is to overcome the four ultimate concern of healthy conditions and emotions.
The human condition is “inevitability of death, isolation, meaningless, freedom and responsibility” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). Each of these emotions difficulties are essential to change. Awareness, authenticity freedom and responsibility and actualization each have a role to help the client overcome their fears and loss. When a person is more aware chances are their choices will be different when a person is authentic, the conduct of their values and feeling are freely value, when a person is free he or she become more aware and responsible for his or her choices.
When a person is actualizing him or she is more authentic to differentiate universal aspects than individual behavior. The client beliefs and emotion are important in the therapeutic treatment; however, existential therapy has no treatment stages or transition to cure the client but to establish “a deep relationship between client and clinician, it is almost never time limited or rushed” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). However, the process is generally established when the client becomes “, Aware of themselves and their world, finding purpose, meaning, values, and authenticity.
Treatment moves toward a close when client use the information he or she have shared to find purpose, meaning and value in his or her lives. Because Existential therapy is not dedicated to a particular way of viewing reality, and covers such a broad array it is highly used in multicultural situations. This therapy is one of the most successful in helping other cultures because it focuses on issues that everyone faces. The issues such as life, love, death, anxiety, and suffering are all discussed under this form of therapy. At some point in life one will encounter one or more of these feelings.
Therefore, there are place all around the World that use this form of therapy. This paper discussed the history of the development of Existential therapy, the beliefs on which it is based, the important contributors or practitioners of the therapy, the theory of helping, the relationship between the helper and the clients, some techniques or approaches developed. The kinds of problems addresses, multicultural issues in using these approaches and research finding on the theory. This particular therapy is not necessarily used often, but when used properly is effective.
The authors of this paper wanted to ensure that the Existential therapy was covered and the reader would become aware of every aspect of this therapy. References Seligman,, L. , & Reichenberg, L. W. (2010). Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Systems, Strategies, and Skills (3rd ed. ). : Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Bily, Susan Jean (2003). An inquiry into the role of existential philosophy in the practice of existential psychotherapy. Psy. D. dissertation, Alliant International University, San Diego, United States — California. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. Publication No. AAT 3073423). Rettger, John, M. A. (2006). Existential Group Work in Adult Substance Abuse Populations. Retrieved on May 29, 2010 from http://www. transpersonalstuff. org Fernando, Delini M. (2007). Existential theory and solution-focused strategies: Integration and application. (PAPER). Journal of Mental Health Counseling/July 01, 2007. Retrieved May 29, 2010 from http://www. accessmylibrary. com Mulhauser, Greg MD. (2010). Counseling Resource. An Introduction to Existential Counseling. Retrieved May 29, 2010 from http://counsellingresource. com/types/existential/index. html