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HE WHO HAS A WHY TO LIVE FOR CAN BEAR WITH ALMOST ANY HOW.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

EXISTENTIAL PSYCHOTHERAPY
COUNSELING & PSYCHOTHERAPY Arellano University Graduate School Sr. Marilou L. Fonacier, SFI MA Psychology

VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE


It reacts against the tendency to identify therapy with a set of techniques. Instead it bases therapeutic practice on what it means to be human. It stands for respect for the person, for exploring new aspects of human behavior and for divergent methods of understanding people. Uses numerous approaches to therapy. It strikes a balance between recognizing the limits and the tragic dimensions of human existence as well as the possibilities and opportunities of human life. It grew as a desire to help people engage in the dilemmas of contemporary life such as isolation, alienation and meaninglessness.

The current focus is on the individuals experience of being in the world alone and facing the anxiety of this isolation. The significance of mans existence is never fixed once and for all, rather we continually re-create ourselves through our projects. Humans are in constant state of transition, emerging, evolving and becoming. Being a person implies that we are discovering and making sense of our existence. We continually question ourselves, others and the world. Who am I?, What can I know?,What I ought to do?, What can I hope for?, Where am I going?

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE

Existentialism is alternately religious, atheistic and antireligious. It emphasizes hope and optimism, despair and nothingness. In short, they do not agree on the basic view of human nature. All agree on the importance of existence, the phenomena inherent in the very nature of being alive. They believe that life is either fulfilled or constricted be series of decisions that we make, with no way of knowing conclusively what the correct choices are. They emphasize experience as the primary phenomenon in the study of human nature. Theoretical explanations and overt behavior are secondary to experience itself and its meaning to the person.

THE BASIC DIMENSIONS OF THE HUMAN CONDITION

1) the capacity for self- awareness 2) freedom and responsibility 3) creating ones identity and establishing a meaningful relationship with others. 4) the search for meaning, purpose, values and goals. 5) anxiety as a condition of living. 6) awareness of death and non being.

PROPOSITION I. CAPACITY FOR SELF-AWARENESS AS HUMAN BEINGS, WE CAN REFLECT AND MAKE CHOICES BECAUSE WE ARE CAPABLE OF SELF-AWARENESS. THE GREATER OUR AWARENESS, THE GREATER OUR POSSIBILITIES FOR FREEDOM. WE
INCREASE OUR CAPACITY TO LIVE FULLY AS WE EXPAND OUR AWARENESS IN THE FLOWING AREAS:

We are finite and dont have limited time to do what we want in life. We have the potential to take action or not to act; inaction is a decision. We choose our actions, thus, we can create our own destiny. Meaning is the product of discovering how we are thrown or situated in the world and then through commitment, living creatively.

As we increase our awareness of the choice available to us, we also increase our sense of responsibility for the consequences of these choices. We are subject to loneliness, meaninglessness, emptiness, guilt, and isolation. We are basically alone, yet we have an opportunity to relate to other beings.

We can choose to expand or to restrict our consciousness because self- awareness is at the root of most other human capacities, the decision to expand it is fundamental to human growth.

AWARENESS THAT CLIENTS MAY EXPERIENCE IN THE COUNSELING PROCESS:

They see how they are trading the security of dependence for the anxieties that accompany choosing themselves. They begin to see that their identity is anchored in someone elses definition of them- i.e. they are seeking approval and confirmation of their being in others instead of looking to themselves for affirmation. They learn that in many ways they are keeping themselves prisoner by some of their past decisions and they realize that they can make new decisions. They learn that although they cannot change certain events in their lives, they can change the way they view and react to these events.

They learn that they are not condemned to a future similar to the past, for they can learn from their past and thereby reshape their future.
They realize that they are so preoccupied with suffering,death,and dying that they realize they are not appreciating living. They are able to accept their limitations yet still feel worthwhile in the present moment. They come to realize that they are failing to live in the present because of preoccupation with the past, planning for the future, or trying to do too many things at once.

The aim of all counseling includes: awareness of alternatives, motivation, factors influencing the person, and personal goals. The task of the therapist is to indicate to the client that a price must be paid to go home again Ignorance of our condition may have brought contentment along with a feeling of partial deadness, but as we open the doors in our world, we can expect more turmoil as well as the potentials for more fulfillment.

PROPOSITION 2: FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY

Characteristic Existential theme: People are free to choose among alternatives and have a large role in shaping their destinies Central Existential Concept: Although we long for freedom, we often try to escape from our freedom. Russel,2007)

Essential theme: People are free to choose among alternatives thus, they have a role in shaping their destinies. Central Concept: although we long for freedom , we are also escapists. INAUTHENTICITY/ bad faith /in accepting responsibility

Naturally, Im this way I couldnt help what I did, I grew up in a broken home.

Ganito talaga ang ugali ko, sorry na lang sila. Di ko na ito mababago.

ANALYSIS OF INAUTHENTICITY: INAUTHENTIC MODE OF EXISTENCE

= lacks awareness of personal responsibility =passivity in assuming that our existence is largely controlled by external forces.
Challenge-we cannot help but be constantly

confronted with a choice: 1) To choose what I kind of person I would become. 2) As long as we exist, we will always make a choice

FREEDOM- I AM COMMITTED TO CHOOSE FOR MYSELF.


responsible for my LIFE

..responsible for my ACTIONS

I AM

..responsible for my FAILURES TO TAKE ACTION

EXISTENTIAL GUILT
Awareness that I have evaded a commitment Or having chosen not to choose. It grows out of a sense of incompleteness Or a realization that we are not what we might have become. SIGN- of our failure to rise to the challenge of our anxiety which we have evaded by not doing what we know is possible for us to do. ( Van Deurzen,2002) Source of guilt? Because we have allowed others to define us or make choices for us. WE ARE OUR CHOICES- (Sartre)

IS IT NEUROTIC? NO. ITS NOT A SYMPTOM TO BE CURED.


Therapists task- exploration of the guilt and see- what can my client learn about how he/she is living her/his life? Implication of AUTHENTICITY= that we are living by being true to our own evaluation of what is a valuable existence for ourselves. Acknowledging responsibility for our lives in spite of the anxiety resulting from our choice. We dont lose ourselves in a crowd, we see our uniqueness and work out to become what we must become.

Being free & being human is identical. Freedom & responsibility together. We are the authors of our lives because we create- our destiny, our life situation and our problems To effect change, we must assume responsibility. Clients who refuse to accept responsibility & persist in blaming others for their problems will not profit from therapy.

I BLAME

NO CHANGE WILL HAPPEN

YOU BLAME

(Frankl) Relationship between freedom and responsibility Freedom is bound by certain limitations because we are not free to take a stand against restrictions. These conditions are subject to our decisions of which we are responsible. Task of the Therapistto assist clients to discover how they are avoiding freedom and encourage them to learn to risk. If not, clients will become crippled and dependent o to the therapist. To teach clients that they can accept that they have choices. (Russel) We resent when we have choices but we get anxious when we do. Therapist will encourage clients to weigh the alternatives and to explore the consequences of what they are doing with their lives. Therefore, this therapy is geared towards =
BROADENING THE VISION OF OUR CHOICES.

PROPOSITION 3: STRIVING FOR IDENTITY AND RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS.


Create a personal identity VS. Striving for connectedness

SOUGHT ANSWERS FROM OTHERS

WE BECOME WHAT OTHERS EXPECT US TO BE

OUR BEINGS ARE ROOTED IN OTHERS EXPECTATIONS

We become in the end, STRANGERS TO OURSELVES. A mature person is someone who is comfortable in being alone and in being with others.

THE COURAGE TO BE

(Paul Tillich ,1886-1965)


Leading Protestant Theologian

My fear is that Ill discover that I am nobody. Nothing will exist if I shed my masks.
_______________________________________________ ___

If we are aware that we are finite, we appreciate ultimate or infinite matters. It takes courage to discover the true ground of our being and use this power to transcend aspects of non being that would destroy us. Courage entails that we move forward in spite of anxiety-producing situations, such as death. We struggle to create, discover and maintain the core deep in our being. Clients fear to discover that they dont have a core, no self, but merely reflections of others expectations of them.

Clients are challenged to face their fears.

Then they are asked how long they can stay with those fears. Clients can explore ways on how to redirect their fears.

EXPERIENCE OF ALONENESS Part of the human condition is the experience of being alone. But we can get strength from looking at ourselves and sensing our separation. Source of feelings of isolation? When we recognize that we cant depend on someone else. What to do? We alone must decide how we will live. If we are unable to tolerate ourselves when we are alone, how can we expect anyone else to be enriched by our company? Before we can have a solid relationship with others, we must first have a relationship with ourselves. We have to be able to stand alone before we can truly stand beside another.

Self Intimacy = Healthy IPR PARADOX = HUMANS are existentially both ALONE and RELATED. Ultimately, we are alone. .

We must be comfortable with ourselves, otherwise we search for ourselves in the selves of others.
Emotional Dependencyleads to Circle of dependency

EXPERIENCE OF RELATEDNESS We humans depend on relationships with others. We want to be significant in anothers world and want to feel that anothers presence is important in our world. When we ate able to stand alone, and dip within ourselves for our own strength, our relationship with others are based on fulfillment, not deprivation. If we feel personally deprived, we can expect little but a clinging and symbiotic relationship with someone else. ( emotional dependency/ emotional vampires))

FUNCTIONS OF THERAPY:

To help clients distinguish between a neurotically depended attachment and a life-affirming relationship in which both persons are enhanced. Challenge the client to examine what they can get from their relationship, avoid intimate contacts, how to prevent themselves fro having equal relationships, how to create healthy and mature human relationships.

STRUGGLING WITH OUR IDENTITY

THERAPEUTIC JOURNEY: challenge clients to examine the ways how they have lost their identity by letting others design their life for them Clients may feel frightened in realizing that they have surrender their freedom to others. Confront clients with the reality that ALONE they MUST find their own ANSWERS.

The awareness of our ultimate aloneness can be frightening that clients may attempt to avoid being alone and isolated. Because of the fear of dealing with this reality, ( Farha,1994) points out that some of us get caught up in ritualistic behavior patterns that cements us to an image or identity we acquired in early childhood.

PROPOSITION 4:

The Search for Meaning

Problem of Values

discarding Old

Meaninglessness Creating New Meaning

THE PROBLEM OF DISCARDING OLD VALUES

Therapists job:

Problem found in therapy: - clients may discard traditional (or imposed) values w/o finding other suitable replacement. What to do- If clients no longer cling to their values that were never really challenged or internalized and now experiences a vacuum? I feel like a boat without a rudder (aimlessness) Clients seek for guidelines and values that are fitted for their newly discovered aspects of themselves, yet for a time they are without them.

Trust the capacity of the client to eventually discover internally derived value system or new source of values that will provide a meaningful life for them.

MEANINGLESSNESS Is it worth struggling or living if life seems to be meaningless? Is there a point to what I do now, since I will eventually die? Will what I do be forgotten when Im gone? Stop the diet, eat everything, anyway I will also die one day Frankl: Such feelings is a major existential neurosis of modern life. Meaninglessness can lead to emptiness called "existential vacuum. This is felt by people who dont busy themselves with routine or with work.

Danger! People who feel trapped by emptiness of life withdraw from the struggle of creating a life with a purpose. Heart of counseling issues= Experience of lack of meaning & establishing values

CREATING NEW MEANING Logotherapy was designed by Viktor Frankl after World War 1) to help clients find a meaning in life. It accents the capacity of a person to exercise the power of choice and experience healing through meaning Therapist help clients that they can find meaning even in suffering. Existentialist view that human suffering ( the tragic and negative aspects of life) can be t returned into human achievements by the stand an individual takes when faced with it. Frankl contends that people who confront pain, guilt, despair and death ca challenge their despair and thus triumph.

Meaning is not easily searched or obtained, the more rationally we seek it the more likely we miss itit s sometimes elusive.

Meaning is an ongoing process we struggle with during lifetime(Vontress,200


8)

PROPOSITION 5: ANXIETY AS A CONDITION OF LIVING

WATCH OUT FOR: Clients who want solutions to eliminate anxiety.

When we make a decision involving reconstructing our life, the accompanying anxiety can be a signal that we are ready for personal change.

Learning how to listen to our anxiety, may help us dare to take steps towards changing the direction of our lives. Opening up to new life means opening up to anxiety. We pay a costly price when we short-circuit anxiety.

Those who flee quickly into comfortable patterns might experience a temporary relief but may later experience frustration of being stuck in old ways.
HOPE:

Those who are willing to live with their anxiety for a time are those who profit from personal therapy.

EXISTENTIAL ANXIETY-

NORMAL ANXIETY

NEUROTIC ANXIETY

is a disproportionate , out Appropriate is the unavoidable of awareness and tends to response to an result of being immobilize the person. event being faced. confronted with the It does not need givens of To be psychologically to be repressed, it existence death, healthy, entails living with can be used a s freedom, as little neurotic anxiety motivation to choice, isolation & as possible, while change. meaninglessness. accepting and struggling with unavoidable It is not Existential anxiety existential anxiety (normal therapeutic to can be a stimulus anxiety) that is part of eliminate normal for growth. being alive. anxiety since we cannot survive without it. It acts as a dynamo for action.

MAIN GOALS OF EXISTENTIAL THERAPY


BUGENTAL,1996)

Assist clients in recognizing that they are not fully present in the therapy process itself and in seeing how this pattern may limit them outside of therapy. Support clients in confronting the anxieties that thy have so long sought to avoid. Help clients redefine themselves and their word in ways that foster genuine contact with life.

ROLE OF THE COUNSELOR

The existential therapist is grounded in the immediate, subjective experience of encountering the client.. In an effort to restore personal meaning in the life of the client, the therapist may use advocacy, empathy, concern, reflection, action, environmental modification or support. The therapist has a kind of flexibility that is not threatened by the ideas and beliefs of others and does not adhere stubbornly to any intellectual systems, theory or ideology. They enter into the subjective world in the clients here and now.

ROLE OF THE COUNSELOR

Understand the subjective world of the client until they come to new understanding and options Concerned about the clients avoidance of responsibility by inviting them to accept personal responsibility.

If clients complain about their predicaments, they are asked how they contributed to the situation.

Deals with persons who have restrictive existence, who have limited awareness of themselves, are often vague about their problems, who see few options in dealing with life. Therapist assist them to see ways in which they constrict their awareness and the cost of such restrictions.(Bugental,1997) To get a stuck person get moving again (Mendelowitz & Schneider,2008)

COUNSELING STRATEGIES

Not a technique oriented therapy, de- emphasis on techniques but priority is given to understanding the clients world. They employ other techniques but does not use an array of un - integrated techniques. Interventions used are philosophically based regarding the essential nature of human existence. Therapist's prefer description, understanding and exploration of the clients subjective reality. As opposed to diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. (Van Deurzen,2002) They prefer to be thought as philosophical companions and not as repairer of psyches. Openness to individual creativity of the therapist and the client. Therapists need to adapt their interventions to their personality and style, as well as being sensitive to what each client requires. Existential practitioners intervention must be responsive to the uniqueness of each client. ( Van Deurzen, 1997)

The starting point for existential work is for the practitioners to clarify their views of life and living.
That therapist must reach a sufficient depth and openness in their own lives to venture into the clients murky waters without getting lost. The nature of existential work is to assist people in the process of living with greater expertise and ease.

It is a collaborative adventure wherein both the client and the therapist will face the reality of being transformed when they allow themselves to be touched by life. ( Van
Deurzen,1997)

The meeting of the deepest self of both the therapist and the client, the counseling process is at its best.

STEPS IN COUNSELING
INITIAL PHASE Therapist assist clients to identify and clarify their assumptions of the world. They are invited to define and question the ways in which they perceive and make sense of their existence., as they examine their values, beliefs and assumptions to determine validity. Clients may initially present problems as stemming from external causes. MIDDLE PHASE FINAL PHASE Focuses on helping people take what they are learning Clients are encouraged to about themselves and put it more fully examine the into action. source and authority of their The aim of therapy is to present value system. This enable the clients to find process of self- exploration ways of implementing their leads to new insights and examined and internalized restructuring of values and values in a concrete way attitudes. between the sessions and after the therapy has terminated. Individuals get a better idea of what kind of life they consider worthy to live and develop a clearer sense of internal valuing process. Clients would discover their strengths and find ways to put them to the service of living a purposeful life.

They are helped to reflect on their own existence and to examine their role in creating their problems .

CONTRIBUTIONS TO MULTICULTURAL
COUNSELING

Focus is on understanding clients phenomenological world, including cultural background. This approach leads to empowerment in an oppressive society. Existential therapy can help clients examine their options for change within the context of their cultural realities. The existential approach is particularly suited to counseling diverse clients because of the philosophical foundation that emphasizes the human condition.

LIMITATIONS IN MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING

Values of individuality, freedom, and autonomy and self- realization often conflict with cultural values of collectivism, respect for tradition, deference to authority and interdependence.

Some may be deterred by the absence of specific techniques. Others will expect more focus on surviving in their world.

GENERAL CONTRIBUTION OF EXISTENTIAL APPROACH

Its major contribution is recognition of the need for a subjective approach based on a complete view of the human condition. It calls attention to the need for philosophical statement on what it means to be a person. Stress on the I/Thou relationship lessens the chances of dehumanizing therapy. It provides a perspective for understanding anxiety, guilt, freedom, death, isolation, and commitment.

GENERAL LIMITATIONS OF THE EXISTENTIAL APPROACH

Many basic concepts are fuzzy and ill- defined, making its general framework abstract at times. Lacks a systematic statement of principles and practice of therapy. Has limited applicability to lower functioning and nonverbal clients in extreme crisis who need direction.