criticisms I have of existential therapy

Grande, T. (2019, January 9). Theories of counseling – Existential therapy [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvAvc2aWup0

 

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YOUTUBE LINKhttps://youtu.be/YvAvc2aWup0

 

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

00:06

hello this is dr. Gandhi welcome to my

00:09

video on the theory of existential

00:12

therapy the term existential therapy

00:15

actually refers to a group of several

00:19

therapies however generally under this

00:24

theory counselors focus on human

00:29

experiences as opposed to behavioral

00:33

rules or dividing the mind into

00:37

different areas as we see in

00:40

psychoanalytic and analytic therapy so

00:43

we’ll start with the theory of

00:46

personality and in existential therapy

00:50

an important part of the theory of

00:54

personality is the idea that there is an

00:57

inner struggle between the concepts of

01:00

freedom and responsibility and that

01:04

individuals move toward resolving the

01:07

struggle there’s also a search for

01:11

meaning and purpose in life as well as a

01:15

search to identify and establish values

01:19

individuals are thought of as self-aware

01:22

and the self-awareness plays a part in

01:25

human development the formation of

01:29

identity is a key component of

01:32

development as is building productive

01:36

and meaningful relationships in

01:39

existential therapy people work to self

01:43

actualize to become fully authentic to

01:47

become a fully authentic person in the

01:49

world and generally how a person relates

01:52

to the world is a key area of emphasis

01:57

when looking at existential therapy

02:01

under this theory there are several

02:04

fears that clients will have at

02:08

different points in their lives

02:10

including the fear of isolation

02:13

meaninglessness the fear of death

02:17

the fear of lacking any meaningful

02:19

relationships the fear of having and

02:24

experiencing guilt and also the fear of

02:28

feeling empty the fear of emptiness so

02:33

as you can see from this theory of

02:34

personality existential therapy really

02:38

focuses on what it means to exist in the

02:42

world and how individuals sometimes

02:47

struggle to make sense of that existence

02:49

and to find purpose in that existence

02:52

continuing with the theory of

02:54

personality the ways of being in the

02:58

world in the theory of existential

03:01

therapy are divided into four parts and

03:05

it’s important to understand that

03:08

existential counselors believe that

03:10

individuals exist in all four of these

03:14

parts all four of these worlds

03:17

simultaneously the first world here is

03:21

the eigen welt and that’s one’s own

03:25

world

03:26

it’s an individual’s subjective inner

03:30

experience of the world next we have the

03:35

MIT welt and the MIT welt

03:37

represents relationships that only human

03:40

beings can have then we have the ohm

03:44

welt and the ohm welt is the physical

03:47

world and the objects in the physical

03:50

world so it’s the environment around an

03:54

individual including all living beings

03:56

and last we have the uber welt and the

04:02

uber welt represents spiritual beliefs

04:03

about the individual’s ideal world the

04:09

next item when looking at the theory of

04:10

personality is the concept of

04:13

existential anxiety and this is

04:16

different than what existential

04:18

counselors refer to as neurotic anxiety

04:21

and I’ll talk about those differences in

04:25

a moment

04:26

existential anxiety is considered normal

04:30

it’s to be expected and it’s also

04:33

considered in many ways to be positive

04:35

because it can lead to living a full and

04:39

authentic life individuals require

04:43

courage in order to overcome existential

04:46

anxiety but when Exxon’s existential

04:50

anxiety can be accepted by an individual

04:53

therapeutic change is possible

04:57

existential anxiety can also be avoided

05:00

at least for a short time when an

05:04

individual believes there is safety and

05:06

security and life existential counselors

05:10

do not believe in safety and security

05:14

but rather they have a view of the world

05:17

where uncertainty is a major factor that

05:22

must be accepted and acknowledged moving

05:26

on to the cause of symptoms and you can

05:30

see here under causes symptoms I have

05:33

existential anxiety that’s a cause of

05:37

clients symptoms under this theory and

05:41

neurotic anxiety and it’s important to

05:44

understand the difference between these

05:46

two types of anxiety existential

05:49

counsellors recognize both of these

05:52

types of anxiety exist but feel they

05:56

have very different characteristics so

06:00

taking a look at existential anxiety in

06:03

this theory existential anxiety is not

06:06

pathological it’s a normal part of the

06:09

human condition it’s appropriate to

06:12

situations individuals do not typically

06:17

repress existential anxiety and it cut

06:21

it can facilitate the confrontation of

06:25

what existential counselors refer to as

06:28

existential dilemmas

06:31

neurotic anxiety on the other hand is

06:35

inappropriate based on situation its

06:39

disproportional in severity as compared

06:43

to the situation it may be caused by

06:47

repressed fears and sometimes

06:52

existential issues can cause or

06:55

contribute to the development and

06:59

maintenance of neurotic anxiety so there

07:01

is a link between existential issues and

07:06

neurotic anxiety in some cases moving on

07:11

to techniques existential counselors do

07:16

not typically use traditional techniques

07:19

rather there is an emphasis on building

07:23

a genuine and empathetic relationship

07:26

with the client and in this relationship

07:30

the subjective experience about the

07:33

counselor and the client is realized

07:36

embraced and appreciated the counselor

07:40

works throughout the course of the

07:43

therapy to understand the client

07:47

experiences existential therapy is

07:51

mostly non directive and typically does

07:55

not make direct attempts to cause change

07:58

in a client existential counselors do

08:03

use self disclosure as a therapeutic

08:06

technique they model authentic behavior

08:09

and this is an important point to look

08:12

at the modeling of authentic behavior

08:15

because this necessitates that an

08:18

existential counselor has explored

08:22

existential issues including accepting

08:26

existential anxiety and moving toward

08:30

self-actualization so counselors in

08:34

existential therapy need to have

08:38

heightened self-awareness particularly

08:40

around existential issues

08:45

existential counselors note other ways

08:47

of being which is a little bit directive

08:53

but it’s not considered a direct attempt

08:55

to cause change and this pointing out to

09:00

the client that there are other ways of

09:01

being available to the client is

09:05

different than suggesting other ways of

09:08

behaving feeling or thinking

09:12

interestingly existential counselors do

09:15

recognize transference and when they

09:20

experience transference they pointed out

09:23

and make it a topic of discussion

09:28

existential counselors believe in the

09:30

concept of resistance and they believe

09:33

the resistance comes about when clients

09:37

do not take responsibility when clients

09:40

are not aware of feelings when they are

09:43

not authentic and existential counselors

09:47

will often address indirectly resistance

09:52

when they experience it in a counseling

09:56

session now let’s take a look at the

09:59

goals in existential therapy and not

10:03

surprisingly one of the goals is

10:05

authenticity and specifically a high

10:10

level of authenticity consistent with

10:13

self-actualization another goal is for

10:18

the client to find purpose and meaning

10:20

in life counselors hope to increase

10:25

awareness about the choices available to

10:28

an individual and the freedom to make

10:32

those choices there is a hope that

10:36

through the counseling process a better

10:39

understanding of the client by

10:43

themselves is achieved and also a better

10:46

understanding of client values

10:50

another goal is that clients will

10:55

develop improved communication skills

10:58

which would allow more authentic genuine

11:02

and productive relationships with other

11:04

people existential counselors help

11:08

clients to take responsibility for

11:10

decisions and help them to exhibit

11:16

greater honesty with themselves in their

11:20

own lives in their own experience moving

11:23

on to my opinion regarding existential

11:28

therapy and how we can integrate

11:31

elements of this theory into our own

11:34

counseling style before getting into

11:38

these items and discussing these items

11:40

it’s important to recognize that unlike

11:44

many of the other theories that can be

11:47

traced back to one individual one

11:52

developer of the theory there are a

11:55

number of individuals that contribute to

11:58

existential therapy and there are a

12:01

number of existential therapies there

12:04

are many versions of this theory of

12:07

existential therapy all of the items I

12:11

have pointed out here as items that can

12:14

potentially be integrated into a

12:16

counseling style are found in most if

12:21

not all of the existential therapy

12:24

versions however some might emphasize

12:28

different items more than others the

12:31

first item here is the emphasis on

12:34

finding meaning and purpose in life and

12:36

I particularly like this feature this

12:40

component of existential therapy

12:43

oftentimes clients come into counseling

12:46

sessions and to some extent or another

12:50

finding meaning and purpose in life is

12:53

something that will be discussed and

12:56

existential therapy tackles this issue

12:59

in an authentic way and it tackles it

13:02

head-on it makes it a foe

13:04

because of the therapy and this is

13:08

similar to my second item the

13:10

willingness to address profound issues

13:12

so in general not just the meaning and

13:16

purpose of life but also other profound

13:18

issues existential therapy is willing to

13:23

directly discuss these issues it does

13:26

not try to avoid profound existential

13:30

issues rather it moves directly toward

13:34

them in the counseling process the third

13:39

item I have here is authenticity and

13:42

this is a component of many theories of

13:46

counseling and in those theories of

13:49

counseling oftentimes and definitely in

13:52

the case of existential therapy the

13:55

existential counsellor is expected to be

14:01

authentic by having good self awareness

14:04

and by having directly addressed

14:08

existential issues themselves I find

14:12

this to be an important point next we

14:14

have the therapeutic alliance the

14:17

therapeutic alliance and existential

14:19

therapy is similar to the therapeutic

14:22

alliance we see in person-centered

14:24

therapy and for that matter and many of

14:27

the theories of counseling the next item

14:31

is the focus on the present but a

14:34

willingness to explore the past and

14:36

discuss the future so some theories of

14:41

counseling focus on the present really

14:45

to the exclusion of the past and the

14:47

future

14:48

they really just try to stay in the

14:50

moment in the counseling session and not

14:53

deviate and talk about the past or what

14:56

could happen the future and that can be

14:59

useful but that can also be restrictive

15:03

so I really like the way existential

15:05

therapy is willing to stay in the

15:07

present but also willing to look at how

15:11

past experiences affect the client and

15:13

the direction the client may want to

15:16

take in the future

15:17

and concerns they may have about the

15:19

future the next item here is the

15:23

appreciation and existential counseling

15:26

that’s some anxiety what they refer to

15:29

as existential anxiety is normal and

15:32

expected existential therapy does not

15:37

pathologize existential anxiety and it

15:43

allows a counselor to work with a client

15:46

with this understanding that some

15:49

anxiety will be present and that that’s

15:51

okay and the last item I have in terms

15:57

of items I like about existential

15:58

therapy is this focus on improving

16:02

communication this isn’t necessarily a

16:06

large part of many of the existential

16:08

therapies but it is a part of many and

16:12

considering how important relationships

16:14

are for many clients improving

16:18

communication has potential positive

16:22

impact in a wide variety of areas career

16:28

family friendships all these benefit

16:34

from improving communication skills and

16:37

improving the ability to authentically

16:40

communicate in terms of some of the

16:44

criticisms I have of existential therapy

16:47

and some of the areas of and items of

16:51

this theory that I do not think are

16:53

particularly useful or at least not easy

16:56

to integrate into a counseling style are

16:59

always productive to integrate into a

17:01

counseling style I think a major

17:04

criticism is really the absence of

17:07

concrete techniques there is an emphasis

17:11

on the therapeutic alliance I mentioned

17:13

that I think that’s good

17:16

however this theory is mostly non

17:20

directive and I believe that many times

17:26

non directive is productive and useful

17:30

but just as in person-centered therapy

17:34

being non-directive can also be

17:38

restrictive and sometimes frustrating

17:41

for the client existential therapy is

17:45

not as non-directive as person-centered

17:47

therapy but the idea of being

17:49

non-directive is still an important

17:52

theoretical construct in this theory so

17:59

to summarize the utility or my opinion

18:02

of the utility of existential therapy

18:05

this therapy is willing to take on

18:08

serious issues it has an emphasis on the

18:11

therapeutic alliance and authenticity

18:14

it’s willing to discuss what the client

18:16

wants to discuss it normalizes

18:21

experiences of anxiety and improves

18:24

communication but it does not have a

18:27

large number of well-developed

18:29

techniques and is mostly non directive I

18:34

hope you found this video on the theory

18:37

of existential therapy to be useful as

18:39

always if you have any questions or

18:41

concerns feel free to contact me I’ll be

18:44

happy to assist you

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