Flashcards in Unit 8: Existential Theory Deck (27):
Describe the existential view of human nature
Therapeutic practice not based on techniques but on an understanding of what it means to be human
Existential theory believes that humans and their existence are never fixed; rather, we continually re-create ourselves through our projects. Humans are in a constant state of transition, emerging, evolving, and becoming.
There are six basic dimensions of the human condition: The capacity for self awareness; freedom and responsibility; creating one’s identity and establishing meaningful relationships with others; the search for meaning, purpose, values, and goals; anxiety as a condition of living; awareness of death and non-being
Identify the fundamental differences between the existential perspective and psychodynamic/behavior/cognitive approaches
Rejects the deterministic view of human nature espoused by orthodox psychoanalysis and radical behaviourism – in psychoanalysis freedom is restricted by unconscious forces, irrational drives, and past events; behaviourists see freedom as restricted by socio-cultural conditions. In contrast, existential therapist acknowledge some of these facts about the human situation but emphasize our freedom to choose what to make of our circumstances. Approach is grounded on the assumption that we are free and therefore responsible for our choices and actions. We are the authors of our lives. We are not victims of circumstance, because to a large extent we are what we choose to be
Reacts against tendency to identify therapy with a set of techniques – bases therapeutic practice on an understanding of what it means to be human
In existential therapy, what are the six basic dimensions of the human condition
The capacity for self awareness
Freedom and responsibility
Creating one’s identity and establishing meaningful relationships with others
The search for meaning, purpose, values, and goals
Anxiety as a condition of living
Awareness of death and non-being
In existential therapy, describe the basic dimension of the human condition: the capacity for self awareness
Our ability to reflect and make choices as human beings. The greater our awareness, the greater responsibilities for freedom and capacity to live fully if we expand our awareness in the following areas:
- we are finite and do not have unlimited 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, and therefore we can partially 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
- existential anxiety, which is basically a consciousness of our own freedom, is an essential part of living; as we increase our awareness of the choices available to us, we also increase our sense of responsibility for the consequences of these choices
- we are subject loneliness, meaninglessness, emptiness, guilt, and isolation
- we are basically alone, yet we have an opportunity to relate to other beings
Increasing self-awareness, which includes awareness of alternatives, motivations, factors influencing the person, and personal goals, is an aim of all counselling. More awareness means more responsibility and less ignorance
Existential therapy, the human condition of the capacity for self awareness, means some dawning awarenesses is that individuals may experience in the counselling process. The see:
trading security of dependence for anxieties that accompany choosing for self
Their identity is anchored in someone else’s definition of them; seeking approval from others instead of themselves
Keeping themselves prisoner by some of their past decisions – realize they can make new decisions
Learn cannot change certain events but can change the way they view and react to these events
Learn not condemned to a future similar to the past – can learn and reshape future
Learn they are so preoccupied with suffering, death, and dying that they are not appreciating living
Able to except their limitations yet still feel worthwhile – understand not need to be perfect to feel worthy
They are failing to live in the present because of preoccupation with the past, planning for the future, or doing too many things at once
In existential therapy, describe the basic dimension of the human condition: freedom and responsibility
People are free to choose among alternatives and therefore have a large role in shaping their destinies. We can make choices and we must accept responsibility for directing our lives.
We are responsible for our lives, actions, and failures to take action.
Existential guilt is being aware of having evaded a commitment, or having chosen not to choose. The guild we experience when we do not live a thin to clean – results from allowing others to define us or to make our choices for us
To central tasks of the therapist are inviting clients to recognize how they have allowed others to decide for them and encouraging them to take steps toward autonomy
Describe existential guilt and inauthenticity
Being aware of having evaded a commitment, or having chosen not to choose. The guilt we experience when we do not live authentically. Results from allowing others to define us or to make our choices for us.
And inauthentic mode of existence consists of lacking awareness of personal responsibility for our lives and passively assuming that our existence is largely controlled by external forces.
Living authentically implies being true to our own evaluation of what is a valuable existence for ourselves
In existential therapy, describe the basic dimension of the human condition: striving for identity and relationship to others
Relates to concerns about preserving our uniqueness and centeredness, yet at the same time having an interest in going outside of ourselves to relate to other beings and to nature. Discovering/creating our personal identity takes courage. We also strive for connectedness with others
Loneliness, uprootedness, and alienation can be seen as the failure to develop ties with others and with nature
Includes concepts; the courage to be, the experience of aloneness, the experience of relatedness, struggling with our identity
Describe the existential concept related to striving for identity and relationship to others: the courage to be
The fear that we will discover that we have no core within our being, no self, no substance, and that we are merely reflections of everyone’s expectations of us.
Once clients have demonstrated the courage to recognize this fear and put it into words and share it, it does not seem so out overwhelming
Describe the existential concept related to striving for identity and relationship to others: The experience of aloneness
Part of the human condition – we can derive strength from the experience of looking to ourselves and sensing our separation - sense of isolation comes when we recognize that we cannot depend on anyone else for our own confirmation, we alone must give a sense of meaning to life and decide how we will live. We are challenged to learn and listen to ourselves
Describe the existential concept related to striving for identity and relationship to others: The experience of relatedness
Humans depend on relationships with others – we want to be significant in another’s world and we want to feel that another’s presence is important in our world. When we are able to stand alone and dip with in ourselves for our own strength, our relationships with others are based on our fulfillment, not our deprivation
Describe the existential concept related to striving for identity and relationship to others: struggling with our identity
Awareness of ultimate aloneness can be frightening, some clients may attempt to avoid accepting their aloneness and isolation – some of us get caught up in ritualistic behaviour patterns that cement us to an image or identity we acquired in early childhood. We become trapped in a doing mode to avoid the experience of being
Part of the therapeutic journey consists of the therapist challenging clients to begin to examine the ways in which they have lost touch with their identity, especially by letting others design their life for them
In existential therapy, describe the basic dimension of the human condition: The search for meaning
The human characteristic regarding the struggle for a sense of significance and purpose in life. Why am I here? What do I want from life? What gives my life purpose? Where is the source of meaning for me in life?
Includes; the problem of discarding old values, meaninglessness, creating new meaning
In the existential search for meaning, what is the problem of discarding old values
One of the problems in therapy is that clients may discard traditional and impose values without finding other, suitable ones to replace them
The therapist job is to trust the capacity of clients to eventually discover an internally derived value system that does provide a meaningful life
In the existential search for meaning, what is meaninglessness?
Wondering whether it is worth it to continue struggling or even living when life seems meaningless or when faced with mortality. Is there any point to what I do now, since I will eventually die? Feeling of meaningless is the major existential neurosis of modern life.
Meaning less Ness in life leads to emptiness and hollowness, or a condition that Frankl calls the existential vacuum
Related to existential guilt- a condition that grows out of a sense of incompleteness, or a realization that we are not what we might have become. Awareness that our actions and choices express less than our full range as a person. Therapist explores it to see what clients can learn about the ways in which they are living their life
Any existential search for meaning, what does it mean to create new meaning?
Logotherapy-designed to help clients find a meaning in life. Therapist function is not to tell clients with their particular meaning in life should be but to point out that they can discovery meeting even in suffering. Finding meaning in life is a byproduct of engagement, which is a commitment to creating, loving, working, and building
In existential therapy, describe the basic dimension of the human condition: anxiety as a condition of living
And inevitable aspect of the human condition which arises from one’s personal strivings to survive and to maintain and assert ones being. Existential anxiety is conceptualized as the unavoidable result of being confronted with the “givens of existence“ – death, freedom, existential isolation, and meaninglessness
Anxiety is a potential source for growth
Normal anxiety is an appropriate response to an event being faced, does not have to be repressed, and can be used as a motivation to change
Neurotic anxiety is out of proportion to the situation. Typically out of awareness, and it tends to immobilize the person
Not a goal to eliminate normal anxiety: being psychologically healthy entails living with as little neurotic anxiety as possible, while accepting and struggling with the unavoidable existential anxiety/normal anxiety that is part of living.
Existential anxiety is a constructive form of normal anxiety and can be a stimulus for growth. We experience this anxiety as we become increasingly aware of our freedom and the consequences of excepting or rejecting that freedom.
In existential therapy, describe the basic dimension of the human condition: awareness of death and non-being
Existentialist does not do you death negatively but holds that awareness of death as a basic human condition gives significance to living. A distinguishing human characteristic is the ability to grasp the reality of the future and the inevitability of death. Death provide motivation for us to live our lives fully and take advantage of each opportunity to do something meaningful.
Our awareness of death is the source of zest for life and creativity
How are freedom and responsibility related? Describe how these core concepts affect the counselling process
Because we have the freedom to choose among alternative/choices, we must accept responsibility for directing our lives. We can avoid this reality by making excuses. People are condemned to freedom. Feel existential guilt when we do not live with and tickly or let others define us or make choices for us.
The therapist assists clients in discovering how they are avoiding freedom and encourages them to learn to risk using it. Two central tasks of the therapist are inviting clients to recognize how they have allowed others to decide for them and encouraging them to take steps towards autonomy
Describe the therapeutic goals of existential therapy
Enabling individuals to accept their freedom and responsibility. Helping clients recognize the ways in which they are not living fully authentic lives and help them make choices that will lead to their becoming what they are capable of being. Assisting clients and moving toward authenticity. New freedom increases anxiety – existential therapy aims at helping clients face this anxiety.
Three main tasks of therapy: (1) to assist client in recognizing that they are not fully present in the therapy process itself and seeing how this pattern may limit them outside of therapy
(2) to support clients in confronting the anxieties that they have so long sought to avoid
(3) to help clients redefine themselves and their world in ways that foster greater genuineness of contact with life.
Increased awareness is the central goal of existential therapy, allows clients to discover that alternative possibilities and choices exist
What is the therapists function and roll in existential therapy?
Therapists are primarily concerned with understanding the subjective world of clients to help them come to new understanding and options. Focus is on clients current life situations, not past. Use techniques from diverse theoretical orientation or none at all. Main interest is in the unique struggle of each client. Assist individuals in discovering the reason for their “stuckness“
Techniques secondary to establishing a relationship that will enable the counsellor to effectively understand and challenge the client. Therapist are especially concerned about clients avoiding responsibility.
Usually deal with people who have a restricted existence – a limited awareness of themselves and vagueness about the nature of their problems. Central task of the therapist is to confront these clients with the ways they are living a restricted existence or how they are stuck, and help them to become aware of their own part in creating this condition.
Therapist helped client engage in self confrontation – how they became the way they are and how they might enlarge the way they live help them to except responsibility
Describe the clients experience in therapy in existential therapy
Clients are encouraged to understand subjective experience and to take responsibility for how they now choose to be in their world. Clients are active in the therapeutic process in deciding what fears, guilt feelings, and anxieties they will explore.
They confront ultimate concerns rather than coping with immediate problems. Major themes include anxiety, freedom and responsibility, isolation, alienation, death and it’s implications for living, and the continual search for meaning
In existential therapy, what is a restricted existence?
Clients who have a limited awareness of themselves and are often vague about the nature of their problems. They may see few, if any, options for dealing with life situations, and they tend to feel trapped or helpless. Essential task the therapist is to confront these clients with the ways they’re living a restricted existence, and to help them become aware of their own part in creating this condition
Describe the relationship between therapist and client in existential therapy
Relationship with the client is given central prominence. Important because the quality of this person-to-person encounter is the stimulus for positive change. Basic attitudes toward the client and their own personal characteristics of honesty, integrity, and courage are what they have to offer. Therapy is a journey taken by therapist and client, delves deeply into perceptions and subjectivity
I/thou relationship has significant implications. The understanding of the self based on two fundamental relationships: the I/it and the I/thou. I/it is the relation to time and space, which is a necessary starting place for the self. The I/thou is the relationship essential for connecting the self to the spirit and, in doing so, to achieve true dialogue. This form of relationship is the paradigm of the fully human self, the achievement of which is the goal of existential philosophy. Relating in an I/thou fashion means that there is direct, mutual, and present interaction. Therapists strive to create caring and intimate relationships with clients rather than objectivity and distance
Therapists share their reactions to clients with genuine concern and empathy to deep in therapeutic relationship. Crucial role of presence. Core of relationship is respect, which implies faith in the clients potential to cope with and clear with their troubles and in their ability to discover alternative ways of being. Clients develop an increased ability to accept and confront the freedom they possess
Therapist invited client to grow by modelling authentic behaviour
Existential theorists highlight the relationship between counsellor and client in facilitating therapy to change. Explain the nature of the I/Thou relationship. What are the implications for the psychological and emotional well-being of the counselor?
I/thou relationship has significant implications. The understanding of the self based on two fundamental relationships: the I/it and the I/thou. I/it is the relation to time and space, which is a necessary starting place for the self. The I/thou is the relationship essential for connecting the self to the spirit and, in doing so, to achieve true dialogue. This form of relationship is the paradigm of the fully human self, the achievement of which is the goal of existential philosophy. Relating in an I/thou fashion means that there is direct, mutual, and present interaction. Therapists strive to create caring and intimate relationships with clients rather than objectivity and distance. If counsellors lack a sense of presence, it will affect the therapeutic relationship in a negative way
Counsellor needs to be fully functioning, authentic, and present
Describe the therapeutic techniques and procedures of existential counselling
Not technique oriented. The use of the therapists self is the core of therapy.
Therapy is a creative, evolving process of discovery that can be conceptualized in three general phases:
Initial phase – counsellors assist client in identifying and clarifying their assumptions about the world. Clients invited to define and question the ways in which they perceive and make sense of their existence, examine values, beliefs, and assumptions to determine their validity. Counsellor teaches them to reflect on own existence and examine role in creating problems.
Middle phase – clients encouraged to more fully examine the source and authority of their present value system – leads to new insights and some restructuring of their values and attitudes
Final phase – focusses on helping clients take what they are learning about themselves and put it into action