Existential Therapy

Existential therapy - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existential_therapy Instead of regarding human experiences such as anxiety, alienation and depression as implying the presence of mental illness, existential psychotherapy sees these experiences as natural stages in a normal process of human development and maturation. In facilitating this process of development and maturation, existential psychotherapy involves a philosophical exploration of an individual's experiences stressing the individual's freedom and responsibility to facilitate a higher degree of meaning and well-being in his or her life

the fields of phenomenology and existential philosophy are especially and directly responsible for the generation of existential therapy.

While Kierkegaard and Nietzsche drew attention to the human issues that needed to be addressed, Edmund Husserl's phenomenology (Husserl, 1960, 1962; Moran, 2000) provided the method to address them rigorously. He contended that natural sciences assume the separateness of subject and object and that this kind of dualism can only lead to error.

From the start of the 20th century, some psychotherapists were, however, inspired by phenomenology and its possibilities for working with people.

Ludwig Binswanger

Soren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) protested vehemently against popular misunderstanding and abuse of Christian dogma and the so-called 'objectivity' of science (Kierkegaard, 1841, 1844)[citation needed]. He thought that both were ways of avoiding the anxiety inherent in human existence. He had great contempt for the way life was lived by those around him and believed truth could only be discovered subjectively by the individual in action.

The three main components to Logotherapy are Freedom of Will, which is the ability to change one's life to the degree that such change is possible, Will to Meaning, which places meaning at the center of well-being, and Meaning in Life, which asserts the objectivity of meaning. The primary techniques of Logotherapy involve helping the clients to identify and remove any barriers to the pursuit of meaning in their own lives, to determine what is personally meaningful, and to then help patients effectively pursue related goals

New developments in existential therapy in the last 20 years include existential positive psychology (EPP)[11] and meaning therapy (MT).[12][13] Different from the traditional approach to existential therapy, these new developments incorporate research findings from contemporary positive psychology.

The European School of existential analysis is dominated by two forms of therapy: Logotherapy, and Daseinsanalysis

Logotherapy was developed by psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl.

For theorists aligned with Yalom, psychological dysfunction results from the individual's refusal or inability to deal with the normal existential anxiety that comes from confronting life's "givens": mortality, isolation, meaninglessness, and freedom.

EPP can reframe the traditional issues of existential concerns into positive psychology questions that can be subjected to empirical research. It also focuses on personal growth and transformation as much as on existential anxiety.[14][15] Later, EPP was incorporated into the second wave of positive psychology (PP 2.0).

Daseinsanalysis is a psychotherapeutic system developed upon the ideas of Martin Heidegger, as well as the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, that seeks to help the individual find autonomy and meaning in their "being in the world"

Otto Rank

Meaning Therapy (MT) is an extension of Frankl's logotherapy and America's humanistic-existential tradition; it is also pluralistic because it incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, and positive psychotherapy, with meaning as its central organizing construct. MT not only appeals to people's natural desires for happiness and significance but also makes skillful use of their innate capacity for meaning-seeking and meaning-making.

Existentialism suggests that it is possible for individuals to face the anxieties of life head on, embrace the human condition of aloneness and to revel in the freedom to choose and take full responsibility for their choices. They can aim to take control of their lives and steer themselves in any direction they choose. There is no need to halt feelings of meaninglessness but instead to choose and focus on new meanings for the living. By building, loving and creating, life can be lived as one's own adventure. One can accept one's own mortality and overcome the fear of death.

In line with the view taken by van Deurzen,[20] one can distinguish four basic dimensions of human existence: the physical, the social, the psychological, and the spiritual

The strictly Sartrean perspective of existential psychotherapy is generally unconcerned with the client's past, but instead, the emphasis is on the choices to be made in the present and future

On the physical dimension (Umwelt), individuals relate to their environment and the givens of the natural world around them

Rollo May

The patient can then accept that they are not special and that their existence is simply coincidental, or without destiny or fate. By accepting this, they can overcome their anxieties and instead view life as moments in which they are fundamentally free.

Viktor Frankl

Individuals are stretched between a positive pole of what they aspire to on each dimension and a negative pole of what they fear.

While people generally aim for security on this dimension (through health and wealth), much of life brings a gradual disillusionment and realization that such security can only be temporary. Recognizing limitations can deliver a significant release of tension.

On the social dimension (Mitwelt), individuals relate to others as they interact with the public world around them

On the spiritual dimension (Überwelt) (van Deurzen, 1984), individuals relate to the unknown and thus create a sense of an ideal world, an ideology, and a philosophical outlook.

On the psychological dimension (Eigenwelt), individuals relate to themselves and in this way create a personal world

Activity and passivity are an important polarity here. Self-affirmation and resolution go with the former and surrender and yielding with the latter.

The contradictions that must be faced on this dimension are often related to the tension between purpose and absurdity, hope and despair.

The dynamic contradictions can be understood concerning acceptance versus rejection or belonging versus isolation.

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