Belief and Faith
Kirk Schneider and Rollo May's The Psychology of Existence: an Integrative,
Clinical Perspective advocates for a therapy that focuses on experiential
"liberation." Focusing on constriction and expansion of "experiential being"
Schneider and May postulate strategies for gently challenging the client to
"deeper spheres of liberation." A key element of liberation is the ability to be
deeply present in our life. As Bugental states, "presence is the quality of
being in a situation or relationship in which one intends at a deep level to
participate as fully as [one] is able."
The roots of the existential
orientation in the United States can be traced to 1958 when May, Angel, and
Ellenberger's Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology was
published. The roots of the humanistic orientation are traced to 1951 when Carl
Rogers' Client-centered Therapy was published. At the core the emphasis is on
phenomenology. As a result, the existential perspective honors the subjectivity
of conscious existence. As part of our subjective nature each individual
struggles with self-awareness, basic freedom, social and intra-personal
identity, the meaning of our life and death, and the anxiety associated with
consciousness. James Bugental, Rollo May, Kirk Schneider, and Irvin Yalom have
contemporary publications that reflect both orientations.
is a protest against the reduction of the whole person to a thing (medical
model), a mind without feeling (rationalism), vugar materialism (thought is to
the brain what urine is to the kidney). In its religious form it attempts to
reconnect man with his spiritual values. In secular terms, its mission is to
reconnect man with his purpose in life, to discover a meaning in life and
uncover authentic choices and values.
Out of all the bounties Allah has
bestowed upon human beings, the most precious is the gift of life. Each one us
should remember that this life Allah has granted us, it is not our personal
possession or our personal property. In-fact it is a trust from Allah, making us
merely trustees. Because we are trustees we should utilise each and every moment
of our lives in the paths that please Allah.
In one verse of the Quraan
Allah informs mankind,
"And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind
except that they should worship Me (Alone)". (Surah Adh-Dhariyat Verse 56)
From this verse we can learn the reason why Allah created mankind.
"Existential psychotherapy is a dynamic approach to therapy which
focuses on concerns that are rooted in the individual's existence." I.Yalom
"Existential counseling can be seen as a process of exploration of what
can make life meaningful." E. van Deurzen-Smith.
Dynamic: passions are set in motion within the individual by the
conditions of human existence and may be unconscious or consciously experiences.
The four ultimate concerns are: death, freedom, isolation, meaninglessness.( I.
GOALS OF THERAPY
The goals of E.A are authentic existence. The self is the focal point in
E.A. and man of good faith is reflective, conscious, knows his feelings and
thoughts, does not deceive himself , is aware of self and his identity. Knows
where he is going in life.
The Biblical proverb 'Man does not live by bread alone' expresses deep
psychological insight. Spiritual values, refers to values which make life
meaningful and reflect needs which are to do with psychological well being.
V.E. Frankl emphasizes the need for logotherapy because loss of meaning
may result in existential despair even though it is not strictly a 'medical
The process of therapy is an increased awareness of obselete attitudes
and behavior patterns which were learned in the past and which continue despite
their frustrating effect on the person's well-being in the present (Hatcher
& Himelstein, 1976).
The therapy process has three elements: insight, emotional discharge and
coping with habitual behavioral reactions.
Nuclear crisis lies behind every reaction though the event varied. It
resides in emotions, hidden from the light of reason by the emotional defense.
Perls puts it " you must lose your reason and come to your senses".
Therapy is a voyage where Client is going to his past accompanied by the
therapist who will help him to open doors which are found closed.
Therapist does not go for a historic approach, making diagnosis and
going for the treatment but he should act as a facilitator, supporting,
challenging, reflecting, helping him to focus and maintain the structure of the
Therapist should not tell the client of his discovery but teach him how
to learn to do this.
Follow the contract strictly, only work on what was signed.
Use Dynamic Focal Method: That past is alive within, and can be recalled
in10 minutes which include present and future with it. Take the microscopic
vision of the past event and make it exist in "here and now". Keep the track of
minute details, vital links to the present, background and be a "surgeon of
Ask the client? What does that make you want to do?" rather than asking
how do you feel ?
Remember as you become less confused after listening to the client the
more understanding he/she will have into the problem. Do the inquiry where you
feel a missing link or gap.
Reflect back to the summary in each session before ending the session
and let the client hear the tape of the recorded session after 4 days at home
for good insight.
If you encounter resistance and you feel the defence mechanism is not
breaking then either leave it for the homework to let it come out with a
"Freudian slip" with the cues as "I wonder if you noticed that…" or halt the
session which sometimes works very well. You can make client do relaxation
exercises as psychosomatic symptoms can communicate feelings.
Let the client
experience the feeling of childhood or any present event in "here and now" with
the present tense use. Make the client act like a child and you too become a
child and lead the client's child to understand the conflict by having dialogue
with it. Look carefully for any conflicting statement as saying a sad thing and
smiling, or double statement which are used with BUT, as I like my husband but I
do not feel like being with him. Try to use the question WHY because it opens
rationalization and theoretical philosophy of client's life.
Insight is knowing well but it can take a rational turn and does not
discharge emotions. There is a soft spot of past in the client which keeps
multiplying and this is a real original nuclear emotion which causes
"existential threat". You can deal it by asking the client to close the eyes,
then you asking permission of the imaginary parents to talk to the child,, then
talk to client's child and see he/she reply in monosyllabus (as children usually
answer in monosyllabus) then have a "healing dialogue" with therapist adult and
client's child. Client should accept the "hurt child" within him. This is where
he will get to know about himself.
Therapist can also do dream analysis, teaching the client to role play
each object, event and object in the dream. As the every thing in the dream is
the client himself in a symbolic form (either in a latent or manifest
Always ask to yourself "What the client will lose when his 'this'
particular symptom is taken away? What are these symptoms doing for the client?"
The client has developed this behavior in childhood and he learnt then
how to deal with threat. It is through play that children learn this behavior.
For the child it is not play but work. Teach the child threat is funny not fear.
Like a child conquers the threat of loneliness in hide and seek. When the hides
behind the door, he seems to be alone but then he goes and find her there and
Try to use humor picked up from the client's story. He/she will learn to
deal with threat in terms of humor not fear. It is controversial issue either to
use humor or not but humor makes the client learn that events are not
Self-actualization cannot be pursued, it ensues, (V.E.Frankl)
Authentic existence is commitment to freedom and social justice
Alienation from self is not simply a psychological problem, it is a
social and economic problem (Erich Fromm).
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