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Existential Group Therapy

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Sean Collins

on 30 March 2013

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Transcript of Existential Group Therapy

Existential Group Therapy
Victor Frankl
Rollo May
Turned concepts of existential philosophy into psychotherapy
Irvin Yalom
Core of existential psychodynamics
meaninglessness Members are challenged to take responsibility.
Members are encouraged to make since of their own experiences
Members are expected to go beyond being aware of their personal experience
Members must be active during sessions
Members must be willing to “loosen up” GROUP MEMBER'S EXPERIENCE IN THERAPY Understand the client’s subjective world.
Encourage clients to accept personal responsibility.
When clients blame others, therapist is likely to ask them how they contributed to their situation.
Major themes in therapy sessions are anxiety, freedom and responsibility, isolation, death, and the search for meaning.
Group leaders are not rigid
Grasp the subjective world of members
establish authentic relationships
Make group members feel free
Not remedied
Fully present with group members Group Leader's Role To expand self-awareness.
To increase potential choices.
To help client accept the responsibility for their choice.
To help the client experience authentic existence. Therapeutic Goals No specific technique used.
Understanding of client is primary and techniques are secondary
Interventions bases on philosophical views on human nature.
Open to using techniques from other theories
Not just clients journey but also the therapist.
Can form a philosophical foundation for group work
An existential approach can form a philosophical foundation for group work
Allows for incorporating methods from various theoretical approaches Techniques and procedures Existential counseling focuses on some of the major existential questions that people face.
Empowers the individual to make choices and take responsibility for her actions.
Emphasizes the individual's inherent worth and dignity.

Question: With what age populations and client populations might an existential approach best fit? Contributions Excessively individualistic.
Ignores social factors that cause human problems.
Even if clients changes internally, they will see little hope for the external realities
Many clients expect a structured and problem-oriented approach instead of discussion of philosophical questions. Limitations  Existential therapy may be used most effectively when a client is able to access emotional experiences or when obstacles must be overcome to facilitate a client's entry into or continuation of recovery.
Despite broad philosophical underpinnings and definitions, the issues raised by existential therapy appear to be universally perceived and basic to human experience. (Yalom, 1980) Research Applicable to diverse clients to search for meaning for life.
Able to examine which behaviors are influenced by social and cultural factors.
Help clients of many cultures weigh the alternatives and consequences.
Change external environment and recognize how they contribute. Multicultural Contributions For many cultures, it is not possible to talk about self and self-determination apart from the context of the social network. Multicultural Perspectives (limitations) Important Figures Vague and global approach
Lofty and elusive concepts
It lacks a systematic statement of the principles and practices of psychotherapy Criticisms What is the meaning or purpose of your life?
What do you want from life?
Where is the source of meaning for you in life?
What are the possible reasons that people blame others for their problems? DISCUSSION Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34.) Chapter 6 --Brief Humanistic and Existential Therapies.
Yalom, I.D. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. New York : Basic Books. References Developmental task (Initial Stage) Focus is on how members perceive and experience their world
Main goal is to inrease awareness of options to widen everyone's freedom
Making a commitment to explore meaningful and significant issues concerning human struggles
Members decide how they want to use time in the group and what issues they want to explore Role and Tasks of Group Leader (Initial Stage) Confront members with issue of dealing with freedom and responsibility
Helps members see the ways in which they are not living fully
Makes use of the self as a way to create a safe climate for exploration Role of Group Members (Initial Stage) Members always have a part in the group process
They look at who and what they are
Clarify their identities and make decisions concerning how they can achieve them authenticity
Members decide what they will explore as well as how they want to change Developmental Task (Working Stage) Members explore loneliness, the anxiety of recognizing that one is free to make choices
Meaning of Life
Emphasis is on taking responsibility 'now'
Focus on self-discovery
Often leads to giving up defenses Role of Group Leader (Working Stage) Emphasis on creating quality relationships
Leader must be fully present
Leader embarks on journey with group members
Both leader and members will chose the direction
Leader must accept subjective role
Must engage in self-disclosure Role of Group Members (Working Stage) Members decide what struggles or existential concerns they will share
Usual concerns include: changing roles, creating new identities, value conflicts, emptiness, loneliness, freedom and responsibility Developmental task (Final Stage) "Invitation to change"
Members are challenged to re-create themselves
Ending group brings up anxiety
Must deal with termination Role of Group Leader Leader challenges members to go into the world and be active
Prepares members to use wht they have learned in the outside world
Speaks to group members through past existential encounters
Helps the members see their contribution to the change they've made Role of Group Members (Final Stage) To change, members must go out into the world and 'act'
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