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COUN 720, chapter outline

by: Marie Fritch

COUN 720, chapter outline Coun 720

Marie Fritch
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
GPA 4.0

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About this Document

These notes outline the background and theories of existential therapy.
Counseling and Consulting Theories
Dr. Boley
Study Guide
Psychology, Counseling, Therapy
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This 6 page Study Guide was uploaded by Marie Fritch on Friday February 19, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to Coun 720 at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania taught by Dr. Boley in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 77 views. For similar materials see Counseling and Consulting Theories in Psychlogy at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

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Date Created: 02/19/16
Theory__Existential Therapy_______ 1. Key figures:   Viktor Frankl:   Founded the Youth Advisement Centers   Holocaust survivor, lost his whole family and wife  His experiences in the death camps solidified his belief that you are in  control of your own attitude. You can be stripped of all your  belongings but your outlook on the situation is up to you to decide.   He emphasized the concept of freedom, responsibility, the meaning of  life, and the search for values  Rollo May:  o Struggled with his existential purpose in life and the failure of two marriages. o Studied Alfred Adler while in college o Believed the best way to help people is through psychology not theology  o Became ill with tuberculosis, which lasted two years and experienced a lot of  anxiety over that time. o Theories concern the nature of human existence and identity, recognizing and  controlling power within us, as well as respecting responsibility and freedom.    Irvin Yalom: o Ultimate human concerns\ “givens of existence”:  freedom, responsibility,  existential isolation, meaninglessness, and death o Believed that therapy should be designed differently for each client because  everyone has different needs.  2. Basic underlying assumptions:  Existential therapy is more of a point of view or attitude about psychotherapy and  how it is practiced.   Existential approach does not follow the deterministic view of human nature  theorized by psychoanalysis which asserts the individual is greatly controlled by their  unconscious.    We are free, responsible and in control of the choices we make, we are not victims of  circumstances.   The way we respond to events in our lives is completely up to us.  3. Key essential concepts:  View of human nature o Existential tradition: Recognize the strengths and limits of human nature. o Respect for all human kind  o The freedom to discover new aspects of human behavior and different  methods of understanding people  Proposition 1: the capacity for self awareness o The basis of self­awareness lies in responsibility, choice and freedom. o The stronger our awareness the more opportunities for freedom are available  to us.  o We choose our actions and our attitudes and this essentially creates our own  destiny.  o We are not immune to loneliness or emptiness we must relate to others beings  to feel whole.   Proposition 2: freedom and responsibility o We are free to choose between alternatives in life and this constructs our  destiny. o Inauthenticity: not accepting personal responsibility for something we have  done. An inauthentic life is brought on by lack of awareness for our own  personal choices and blaming misfortune on external factors.  o Authenticity: being fully self aware and accepting responsibility for our  actions and attitudes. We have the courage to be who we are meant to become.  Proposition 3: striving for identity and relationship to others o As humans we are concerned about preserving our uniqueness but also  remaining connected to others.  o Creating an identity is not automatic; it is something we create for ourselves  and it takes courage.  o We experience aloneness, relatedness, and struggle with our identity.   Proposition 4: the search for meaning o The struggle for a sense of significance and purpose in life is a distinct human  characteristic.  o Therapy can help clients to question where their life is going and if they feel  they are reaching their purpose.  o The client can analyze what’s working in their life to make them happy and  what’s missing.   Proposition 5: anxiety as a condition of living o Existential anxiety is the result of facing the “givens of existence” this implied death, freedom, isolation, choice, and meaninglessness.  o Normal anxiety is an appropriate level of anxiety to accomplish a task. It can  be used as motivation to make changes. o Neurotic anxiety is anxiety about concrete things out of proportion to the  situation. o If we listen to our anxieties and use them constructively we can take steps to  improve our life and make it what we want it to be.   Proposition 6: awareness of death and non being o Awareness of death is a basic human condition that gives significance to  living.  o Humans have the ability to grasp the reality of the future and the inevitability  of death. We need to think about the reality of death in order to appreciate life. 4. Important goals  The goal of therapy is to help clients discover the existential “givens of life” and how  these can be neglected. By addressing these issues one can live a much happier life  and meaningful existence.   Clients are encouraged to reflect on their life experiences   Aim of therapy is to wake people up to the control they really do have over their own  lives and to stop expecting life to work out regardless of what we do.  5. Role of therapeutic relationship in outcomes  Therapists function and role o Help the client to realize what they are unsatisfied with in their lives and take  steps to change it and understand their options.  o The therapist encourages the client to take responsibility for their actions and  where their life has taken them thus far.  o In a sense the therapist “holds up a mirror” to the client and shows them  things they may not have realized about themselves. If the client is unhappy  with that reflection they are encouraged to change it.   Clients experience in therapy: o Clients should decide what fears and anxieties they should explore and how  they can further their treatment outside of therapy.  o During treatment they will gradually become more self aware and more  capable of deciding what they want out of life.  Relationship between client and therapist:  o Person to person encounters in a therapeutic situation is stimulating to the  clients outlook of positive change  o The therapist should show respect for their relationship with the client as well  as model authentic behavior.  6. Techniques  Phases of existential counseling: from the start of counseling the therapist assists the  client in identifying and brining clarity to their beliefs about the world. The client gets an idea of what kind of life they consider worth living.   Clients appropriate for existential counseling: this therapy is used for a diverse  population of clients including those struggling with substance abuse, ethnic or racial  issues or members of the LGBT community. Treatment shows the client pathways  towards personal growth and coping.   Application to brief therapy: this is a short­term therapy session that focuses on  clients specific areas of difficulty such as accepting responsibility or making  commitments.   Application to group therapy: these clients are committed to a life long exploration of  themselves and what they want out of life. Group therapy enabled members to be  honest, broaden their perspectives on the world, and assess what gives them the most  happiness in life right now and for the future. 7. Application to client populations, settings, and treatment of problems:  Client populations and diverse and include those struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, ethnic or racial issues or members of the LGBT community. Treatment of  these diverse problems lies in showing the client pathways towards personal growth  and coping. Clients are treated individually for their unique issues and challenges  they wish to overcome.  8. Major strengths from a diversity perspective  This theory does not dictate a particular view of way of living, thus making it widely  accepted and relevant for multicultural clients.   Clients from all backgrounds can find meaning in their lives through this unique  interpretation of becoming who we want to be.   Clients can recognize how they have been influenced socials and culturally thus far in there lives. 9. Shortcomings from a diversity perspective: this perspective can be seen as excessively  individualistic ignoring social factors. This theory is very focused on self­determination  and regardless of social or environmental factors.  10.  Most significant contribution:  Existential therapy brought the essence of the person and  their individuality into focus again. Death does not have to be met only with fear, but  used as a form of motivation. When we are self aware we understand the limits of  mortality and that we must make the most of our lives.  11.  Most significant limitation: there is a lacking systematic statement for this approach.  This therapeutic style can come off as vague and without structure. The Existential  therapist would need to have a deep understanding of what it means to be human. This is  not a skill easily picked up, as wisdom is something we gain with age and experience.  References Corey, G. (2013). Theory & Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (9th. Ed.).  Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole


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