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Existential Therapy Presentation

Presentation for clinical psych class

Griffith Jones

on 20 February 2013

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Transcript of Existential Therapy Presentation

Class Discussion
and activity Role play of Existential Therapy
Pair up: One person therapist, other client
Client: Talk about a current problem (real or made-up)
Therapist: focus on using the following principles (any or all)
1 - Framing meaning
2 - Finding Meaning
3 - Evaluating Meaning
4 - Authenticity of being

Take 3-4 minutes History and Research Base Existential Psychotherapy Existential therapy receives it's roots in philosophy from:
Kafka, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and others.

Early Existentialists were committed to the exploration of reality as it can be experienced in a passionate and personal manner.
- Otto Rank, an Austrian psychoanalyst, was the first existential therapist.
- Ludwig Binswanger, in Switzerland, also attempted to bring existential insights to his work with patients, in the sanatorium where he was a psychiatrist.
- Rollo May's prolific writing kept the existential influence alive in America, leading eventually to a specific formulation of therapy.
- In Austria, Viktor Frankl developed an existential therapy called logotherapy, which focused particularly on finding meaning.

These existential therapists of the 1940s and 1950s believed drives in Freudian psychology, conditioning in behaviorism, and archetypes in Jungianism all had their own significance. But where was the actual, immediate person to whom these things were happening? Are we seeing patients as they really are, or are we simply seeing a projection of our theories about them? Population Treated Any member of the population can be treated. Any exclusion may be based on the clinician’s observation and decision that a particular client is too focused on the past perhaps and so existential therapy would not be a good option for them in particular. Where does it fit with other therapies/topics Main Principles Existential psychotherapy asks deep questions about the nature of the human being and the nature of anxiety, despair, grief, loneliness and isolation.

The realization of one's being: "I am now living and I could take my life" can have a salutary effect on a patient. "The idea of suicide has saved many lives," said Nietzsche. The human being will be victimized by circumstances and other people until he or she is able to realize, "I am the one living, experiencing. I choose my own being. Case Example What principles of existential therapy are being demonstrated? Main Principles Main Principles Existential Crisis - Mindfulness: MBCT and existential therapy have many parallels
- Dealing with death: cancer patients, terminally ill, etc.
- "Ideal" for working with the elderly
- Existential medicine? REFERENCES: Binswanger, L. (1956). Existential analysis and psychotherapy. In E. Fromm-Reichmann & J. L. Moreno (Eds.), Progress in psychotherapy (pp. 144 –168). New York, NY: Grune & Stratton.

Frankl, V. (1959). Man's Search for Meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

May, R., & Yalom, I. D. (1989). Existential psychotherapy(4th ed.). In R. J. Corsini & D. Wedding (Eds.), Current psychotherapies (pp. 295-324). Itasca, IL: F E Peacock Publishers.

Nanda, J. (2010). Embodied integration: Reflections on Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and a case for Mindfulness Based Existential Therapy (MBET). A single case illustration. Existential Analysis, 21(2), 331-350.

Suri, R. (2009). Working with the elderly: An existential-humanistic approach. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 50, 175-186.

Wilberg, P. (2011). From existential psychotherapy to existential medicine. Existential Analysis, 22(2), 303-317. We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us."
That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. My mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. -Existential vacuum: person doubts that life has meaning
-Death -Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. -Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. -We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering. An existential crisis may result from:
-A new-found grasp or appreciation of one's mortality.
-The sense of being alone and isolated in the world;
-Believing that one's life has no purpose or external meaning Existential Psychology:
Understanding the Meaning of Life in Terms of Death A Subjective Versus Objective World Objective Truth: A tangible reality based on unbiased facts; not dependent on interpretation The way
are Subjective Truth: The interpretations we come to from our own meanings, perceptions, and biases Example: The heroic crossing of the Delaware... Or the underhanded tactics of a coward? Meaning: The key word in Existentialism
From our limited senses, we interpret sensory data, and give:
Meaning: The classification, judgement, and perspective we give to events, objects, and observations. These meanings are not necessarily conscious.
Values: priority of meaning
Goals: plans, founded on our meanings, which affect the choices we make.
We typically act according to what we find meaningful The myth of neutrality.
We have never had an "objective" experience. We are always subject to our own perspectives, values, and biases. And thus... The Dialectic: Opposition in all things
In order to fully understand the meaning of something, we must understand its limits (2 Ne. 2:11) Without the "meaning" of romance... Aspects of understanding "Being" Death: Is inevitable, and is necessary to consider and accept in order to give meaningfulness to life Freedom/Responsibility: We cannot choose not to choose; we are accountable. We must own this responsibility. Limits of Being "If there is a Statue of Liberty on the East Coast, there should be a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast." -Viktor E. Frankl
Possibility: Not all things are possible. We must combine our freedoms and our possibilities in creative ways to achieve meaningful existence. Authenticity of being. We must act consistently according to our values of what is “meaningful” so as to avoid anxiety. Time and Being: The Primacy of the Present The past is an interpretation, and acts in the "here-and-now”

Present is where we set goals and act for our goals, for the sake of these meanings.

Therefore, both the past and the future are seen to be acting in the present. Understanding the Meaning of Existence "We are not just human beings, we are Humans, being." -Brent D. Slife, Ph.D (Original source unknown) Existentialism examines the meaning of life, explores the experience of "Being."
Why live if we will just die?
How are we to understand and interact with others?
What is responsible for our behavior? ...Or the underhanded schemes of a coward? Existential Psychotherapy: A Framework, Not a Technique Identifying Meanings The therapist helps the client identify the meanings they have Finding Meanings The therapist helps the client find meanings in their life
Usually outward-focused: Relationships with others, obligation or service to others
Goals and values are sought and considered. Evaluating Meanings The therapist helps the client examine their meanings and their actions in life, looking for meanings that create anxiety.
Resolve conflicting meanings
Accept aspects of Being
Will to meaning
Resolve Limit-Related Anxiety by accepting Limits
Freedom/Consequence "Those who survived the camps were those who had something meaningful to survive for." -Viktor E. Frankl, "Man's Search for Meaning" Typical Applications: Is less successful in dealing with serious mental disorders. However, it can be quite successful in dealing with the following:
Traumatic events
Coping with loss
Developmental life issues
Relationship conflict
Emotional issues The purpose is to broaden the client's self-awareness, help them identify, evaluate, and (if necessary,) change their own interpreted meanings, values, and goals in a journey of self-discovery and self-correction. Identify their interpretations of the past by their present actions, and determine what goals they are currently acting for; thus helping them identify their currently-held meanings.
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